KATHMANDU, Nov 2: Kathmandu District Court (KDC) has sought the parliamentary probe committee report in relation to hearings in the defamation case filed by ousted Nepal Oil Corporation chief Gopal Khadka against Nagarik daily.
Underlining that the probe committee report was needed to open the case, Judge Kailash Prasad Subedi issued the order to submit the report from the parliament secretariat. “Since the defendants have claimed to publish their news reports on the basis of the parliamentary investigations, the report needs to be submitted,” the bench added.
The bench issued the order following initial hearings conducted on Tuesday when advocate Ananta Raj Luitel, who is also legal advisor to the publishing house that publishes Nagarik, sought the court order to examine the parliamentary report. The court also asked to proceed with the examination of witnesses for both sides soon.
The parliamentary committee had directed agencies concerned to take legal action against high-ranking officials of NOC indulging in corruption while purchasing land for the state oil monopoly.
Parliament's Industry, Commerce and Consumer Rights Protection Committee had concluded that NOC had purchased lands in Bhairahawa, Chitwan, Jhapa and Sarlahi at unexpectedly higher valuations than the current market prices. The committee, which prepared its report after making site visits, had concluded that there was serious embezzlement of NOC funds while purchasing the lands.
Nagarik and Republica dailies had published stories based on the parliamentary committee report. But Khadka had filed a defamation case accusing Nagarik's publisher and editor for tarnishing his personal integrity and sought Rs 800 million compensation from the media house.
The 45-page report prepared by the probe panel led by lawmaker Subash Chandra Thakuri concludes that the Public Procurement Act was grossly violated in the land purchases by the NOC team. The NOC board which was led at the time by Prem Kumar Rai had given its nod to Khadka to go ahead with the land purchases. However, Khadka formed a committee comprising Deputy Executive Director Sushil Bhattarai, Rabin Sharma, Bishal Ojha and Vijaya Raj Satyal in order to proceed with the purchase work.