7 accused in PADT graft case acquitted

Published On: August 22, 2016 03:00 AM NPT By: Republica

Two sand mine contractors fined
KATHMANDU, Aug 22: Special Court on Sunday acquitted seven individuals, who were charged with irregularities by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) in sand excavation on the land owned by the Pashupati Area Development Trust (PADT).

A bench of Judges Mohan Raman Bhattarai, Narendra Kumar Shivakoti and Mahesh Prasad Pudasaini stated that the charges brought by the CIAA against the seven individuals lacked evidence.  The acquitted individuals are former PADT Member Secretary Nirmal Kuinkel, also the then chairman of CPN-UML Kathmandu district committee; former member secretary Sushil Nahata; former local development officers (LDOs) at Kathmandu District Development Committee Mahendra Lal Shrestha, Gopal Prasad Parajuli and Prem Raj Joshi; as well as PADT staffers Raj Kumar Regmi and Bhisma Kumar Malla. The CIAA had accused them of unauthorized excavation at Gothatar in Kathmandu.

However, the court slapped a fines of Rs 144.5 million to the contractor Bachchuram Dahal and Rs 1.42 million on another contractor Mitharam Dahal in the same case.

The CIAA in January 2015 had filed the case against nine people accusing them of embezzling Rs 465.4 million while awarding contract to Bachchuram Dahal's firm for excavating sand on the PADT land. The CIAA investigation had claimed that the PADT member secretaries as well as the LDOs were the main culprits in 'illegal sand mining" as they abused their positions and authority for personal gains. The CIAA had claimed that they awarded the excavation contract without following the due process and accepted the proposal of exporting sand at low rates and also allowed excavation to continue for longer than the contract period.

It was one of the biggest cases in terms of the fine amount sought by the CIAA during the tenure of its chief Lokman Singh Karki.

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