KATHMANDU, April 5: It has come to light that owners of the land at Lalita Niwas, Baluwatar for which they had been duly compensated by the government subsequently illegally grabbed the same land.
New facts that have emerged show that the ‘land mafia’ in collusion with land revenue officials at Dillibazar Land Revenue Office grabbed 114 ropani of land acquired by the government after paying compensation. A remaining portion of 14 ropani 14 ana was confiscated during the Panchayat era.
The government acquired a total of 284 ropani, 14 ana and 3 paisa lying within the compound of Lalita Niwas after providing due compensation to the owners on November 30, 1964.
The fact that a former rightful claimant to Lalita Niwas, Kanak Shumsher Rana, son of Subarna Shumsher, subsequently purchased some of the same land from the government shows that the government had provided due compensation to the previous owners when it acquired the land.
“Major Colonel Kanak Shumsher who was with the Royal Nepal Army had lodged an application before the king to allow him to reside in eight ropani of the land. Accordingly, the king on July 25, 1965 issued a direct order to provide him eight ropani,” states a document maintained at the then Magistrate’s Office. “On the basis of the same order, Kanak Shumser filed an application at the Land Revenue Office in Kathmandu on September 27, 1978 and on December 24, 1978.”
According to the application, Kanak Shumsher paid Rs 45,882.69 to the Land Revenue Office on the basis of the compensation amount given by the government when it earlier acquired the entire land. Government records show that the land purchased by the government is among lands acquired by it at an earlier date.
The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), which has been investigating the land-grab case, has also concluded that the government had acquired the land belonging to Lalita Niwas after paying due compensation to the owners.
A separate probe committee formed under former secretary Sharada Prasad Trital said the then Krishna Prasad Bhattarai-led cabinet had directed that only land that was confiscated during the Panchayat era be restored to the rightful owner after completing the legal process. But officials at the land revenue office had acted against the spirit of the Bhattarai cabinet’s decision and illegally transferred ownership of the duly acquired land to the names of individuals in return for bribes, the probe committee report concludes.
The probe panel said that Suniti Rana, Rukma Shumsher Rana, Shailaja Rana, Hatak Shumsher Rana and Heman Shumsher Rana had thus illegally captured 114 ropani of land which the government had already acquired through payment of due compensation. Officials involved in investigations said the cabinet of Girija Prasad Koirala in 2049 BS helped transfer the ownership of the land to those individuals.
According to a notice published in the Nepal Gazette by the Home Ministry in 2021 BS, six different Rana palaces were acquired by the government, covering a total of 1,298 ropani, five ana and one paisa. Of the total 299 ropani 9 ana and three paisa covered by Lalita Niwas, the notice states that only 14 ropani 11 ana -- belonging to Subarna Shumsher Rana and his son Kanchan Shumsher Rana -- was confiscated.
A meeting of the cabinet back in 2047 BS stated that the Home Ministry needed to conduct a thorough investigation to recover the land. The cabinet decision said that the land captured by the government for exceeding the ceiling also belongs to the government, according to CIB officials investigating the case.
As per existing law, one can posses 28 bigha of land in the tarai, 96 ropani of in the hills and 58 ropanis in Kathmandu Valley. The government can confiscate land exceeding the ceiling.