KATHMANDU, April 20: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday deferred the hearing on the infamous Lauda air scam after justices Sharada Prasad Adhikari and Ishwari Prasad Khatiwada were divided on the final verdict.
The case was supposed to get settled now, sixteen years after it was filed at the court. Following conflicting views of the justices on the final verdict of the case, the apex court decided to send the case to the full bench. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed a corruption against government officials including the then Tourism Minister Tarani Datta Chataut on charge of embezzling state coffers while leasing a Boeing from Lauda Air.
The verdict, however, was deferred after justices differed over whether to convict the accused in the scam. The hearing on the case is likely to be prolonged now since the formation of a full bench and hearing on the case is a time taking process. At least three justices will be involved in settling this case now. If the justices are still divided, then the verdict will be issues based on the principle of majority.
According to the court officials, this is the second largest corruption scam. The Special Court had acquitted all accused in 2007. Then the CIAA moved the apex court demanding revision of the special court verdict.
Altogether a penalty of Rs 389.7 million has been sought from the accused in the corruption scam.
CIAA had filed corruption case against the then Tourism Minister Chataut, chairman of the (Royal) Nepal Airlines Hari Bhakta Shrestha, operation committee members Tirtha Lal Shrestha, Siddha Raj Joshi, Gauri Nath Sharma, marketing director Ram Raj Upadhyay, financial director Upendra Upadhyay and corporate director Puskar Prasad Wagle. The CIAA had also filed case against two officials of the Air Company.