Petition challenges sparing of ex-PMs in land scam

Published On: February 13, 2020 08:16 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 13: A writ petition has been filed at the Supreme Court Wednesday challenging the decision of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to spare former prime ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Baburam Bhattarai from corruption charges in connection with the Lalita Niwas land grab scam.

Stating that the anti-graft body did not file charge sheet against both the former prime ministers in a questionable manner, the writ petition filed by senior advocate Balkrishna Neupane seeks apex court intervention to name them as defendants in the land scam.

Senior advocate Neupane sought the apex court’s order to prosecute them in a supplementary charge sheet, alleging that the anti-graft body prosecuted only former ministers and secretaries involved in the case under political influence.

The CIAA last week filed the charge sheet against 175 individuals seeking action against them. But, both the prime ministers were spared by the anti-graft body, stating that their involvement was limited to policy-level decisions made through the cabinet. 

Arguing that such controversial decisions do not give respite to the former prime ministers and that the apex court had already set precedents on such cases, the petitioner sought the apex court order to prosecute both the former prime minsiters in the Lalita Niwas land grab scam.

The petitioner argued that the former prime ministers were the ultimate decision-makers in the cabinet.

The anti-graft body had last week filed cases against 175 individuals including Nepali Congress leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, former ministers Chandra Dev Joshi, Chhabiraj Pant, Dambar Shrestha and former chief commissioner of the CIAA Deep Basnyat among others for illegally registering the government and guthi land in the names of various individuals.

The CIAA has also sought court’s order to transfer back the land in the name of the government and impose billions of rupees in fine against the accused for their alleged wrongdoings. 

The anti-graft body accused them of illegally registering more than 114 ropani of Lalita Niwas land in the name of various individuals either by abusing or manipulating their public authority or by forging documents.

The anti-corruption watchdog has stated in the charge sheet that the bigwigs were charged for illegally registering the government land in their names. Two former secretaries Dinesh Hari Adhikari and Deep Basnyat, who retired recently as the CIAA chief, were also charged by the CIAA. Basnyat was a former secretary at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport headed by Gachchhadar when the illegal land transfer took place.

Chitwan District Court Judge Binod Gautam was also named as defendant for being involved in the scam while he was an under secretary of the government. 

Businessmen Shobhakanta Dhakal, Ram Kumar Subedi and Min Bahadur Gurung are also named as defendants in the case. Those who were holding public positions have been automatically suspended from their responsibility immediately after the anti-graft body filed the corruption case at the Special Court.

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