Thirty-eight graduates of Harvard University have signed a petition to the Nepal Government on behalf of fellow alumni and industrialist Roop Jyoti and his family members, who they said are being unfairly persecuted.
Jyoti, who did a PhD from Harvard in 1999, was picked up at Kathmandu airport on 7 November after arrival from Singapore. He and his daughter, Suruchi Jyoti, have been detained since then, while the rest of his extended family are in hiding.
A renowned businessman, philanthropist, Vipassana meditation teacher and Vice Chairman of Jyoti Group, Roop Jyoti was charged in a real estate dispute.
‘He has been charged with a crime he was not involved in. A multi-year and multiparty business dispute that should and could have been settled via mediation or an arbitration process appears to have been blown out of proportion into a criminal offence,’ the Harvard alumni statement reads.
‘While we expect the rule of law to prevail and to take its course, the circumstances and the manner in which Dr Jyoti and his family are being treated appear to be arbitrary, disproportionate and unfair,’ the statement added.
The group strongly urged the Government of Nepal to free Jyoti and his family members. Not doing so would ‘send an adverse signal that the authorities in Nepal can arrest anyone under any pretext, thereby ruining the person’s reputation, damaging the worth of their societal contributions, and casting a chill in the way that civil society and the private sector operate with rights and privileges granted by the Constitution of Nepal,’ adds the petition.
Jyoti was arrested on the basis of a complaint filed by Bikendra Krishna Malla in December 2018 against the Jyoti Group. Malla claims that since 2014 he has paid Rs27.6 million to the Jyoti Group for a housing complex in Bansbari but is still unable to take possession of it. Although the police obtained an arrest warrant in December 2018, Jyoti filed a writ against it and a court issued a stay order.
Earlier this month, the stay order was vacated by the court, allowing the police to arrest Jyoti and his daughter. On November 12, an arrest warrant was issued against Padma Jyoti, Chairman of Jyoti Group and older brother of Roop Jyoti for his alleged involvement in the housing fraud.
There are media reports that that Malla has reached an amicable settlement with the group not to push the case and lawyers from the two sides are trying to reach a deal.
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