Fake license distribution case: CIB plans to submit investigation report to District Government Attorney’s Office on Sunday

Published On: May 17, 2024 09:10 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

11 people including five employees, in custody of CIB

KATHMANDU, May 17: The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police is preparing to submit its report on the fake license distribution case soon after wrapping up its investigation. As the investigation nears completion, the CIB plans to submit the investigation report to the District Government Attorney’s Office in Kathmandu on Sunday.

The CIB, which started arresting those accused of being involved in the scam on April 27, has so far detained 11 people and started an investigation. Deepa Neupane, a commuter operator working in the Department of Traffic Management (DoTM) of Kathmandu, was arrested on Thursday.

On the previous day, Ganesh Bhandari, a commuter operator (non-gazetted first- class official) currently working in Salyan, was also arrested. CIB Spokesperson Superintendent of Police (SP) Hobindra Bogati said that they were arrested after their involvement was found in tampering the data to issue fake licenses.

Earlier, on May 7, the CIB arrested Surya Kumar Chaudhary, an ex-employee, and Basanta Pandey, a middleman.

On April 27, the police arrested IT engineer Suraj Prakash Aryal working in the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) and Harish Bhatta working as a contract engineer in the Transport Office, Butwal.

Aryal and Bhatt were arrested and investigated. Later, CIB arrested Narayan Pandey, a branch officer working at Transport Office, Butwal.

After the arrest of three employees including Aryal, Bhatt and Pandey, CIB also arrested fake license holders Lajras Sunuwar, Pradeep Sunar, Ajit Mishra, Milan Bastola.

According to Spokesperson Bogati, the detainees include a section officer, five current employees, one ex-employee, one middleman, and four fake license holders.

The CIB’s investigation began with a single case in mid-June 2023 after a pedestrian Krishna Prasad Bhattarai died in Syangja when hit by a car driven by Shashank Basyal. Although Basyal was initially released after presenting 'A' and 'B' category licenses (motorcycle and car), further investigation revealed that he only held a motorcycle license and had obtained the car license fraudulently through a middleman.

The investigation uncovered that Basyal’s car license was issued after paying a bribe to Shivapujan Malaha. 

The licenses were issued by the Transport Office in Butwal on June 28, 2023. The CIB claims that IT engineer Harish Bhatta orchestrated the issuance of the fake 'B' category license for Basyal.

The CIB claims that IT engineer Harish Bhatta is the main planner of tampering details to issue 'B' category license for Basyal.

Further investigations revealed that the group had created fake licenses for others as well. It has been found that Pradeep Sunar, who is currently in custody, was involved in this scam by operating Welcome Driving Center, in Ekantakuna for the past 10 years. Sunar operated the driving center in collaboration with IT engineer Bhatta, who is also in custody.

The CIB states that licenses could be obtained without trials through Bhatta, who had worked as a contract IT engineer at the transport office for 12 years. Additionally, the CIB mentioned that the report from an investigation committee led by Mukesh Regmi, undersecretary of the DoTM and head of the IT department, will be examined in the next phase.

SP Bogati said that the current cases need to be presented soon, as time is running short, and a separate investigation will be conducted based on the report of the Regmi committee’s findings. 

The Regmi-led committee pointed out weaknesses within the DoTM, such as not conducting trial exams in the provinces, rescheduling trial dates, and issuing licenses without trials.

After Uddhav Prasad Rijal assumed the role as the Director General of DoTM in mid-July last year, the DoTM formed an investigation committee to probe the issue of the distribution of fake licenses. The committee, headed by Under Secretary Regmi, found that more than 100,000 licenses were issued without completing the necessary written and trial exams.

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