SC to review own verdict on ex-royal's Chhauni land

Published On: September 3, 2016 01:30 AM NPT By: Nabin Khatiwada

KATHMANDU, Sept 3: The Supreme Court has accepted a review petition from the government and the Nepal Trust over its previous verdict annulling the transfer of land owned by Prerana Singh, daughter of ex-king Gyanendra, to the Neal Trust.

The full bench of Justices Biswambhar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwar Khatiwada and Dr Aananda Mohan Bhattarai on Friday ordered the court administration to reopen the case.

"Following the order, the case will be registered again and hearings will also be repeated," said Bishwa Raj Paudel, deputy spokesperson at the Supreme Court.

The Neal Trust had filed the review petition on July 21, a few days after receiving the full text of the Supreme Court verdict of June 21, 2015.

On that day, a division bench of then chief justice Ram Kumar Prasad Shah and Justice Cholendra SJB Rana  annulled the government's decision to transfer ownership of 15 ropanis (1 ropani = 508.74 square meters) of land to the Nepal Trust from the ownership of Prerana Singh.

She had moved the apex court on February 8, 2015 demanding annulment of the government's land transfer decision of December 16, 2007. Moving the court seven year after the government decision, she had claimed that the land at Chhauni, Kathmandu was given to her by her father as dowry and that transferring the land to the Nepal Trust would be against the law.

The division bench upheld her claim, stating that the Nepal Trust Act 2008 provisions transferring only properties owned  by King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and their sons to the trust.

However, legal experts and government officials opined that the verdict ignored the preamble of the Nepal Trust Act as well as the documents presented before the court. The trust had presented documents showing that the land was owned by King Birendra until his death. The preamble states that the trust was established in order to manage and utilize the properties of King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and members of their family.

The officials at the trust said the verdict ignored the fact that the land was owned by King Birendra until his death.

Documents issued by the Land Revenue Office Kalanki show that the land was transferred to Narayanhiti Royal Palace from the name of King Birendra on May 18, 2005. A letter sent by Sarada Prasad Pradhan, then a top official of the palace, to the Dhukuti Bibhag (Treasure Department) of the palace shows that the land was transferred to the Royal Palace only on May 24, 2005. 

The government, immediately after the monarchy was abolished in 2006, formed the trust with a mandate to acquire and preserve all the properties owned by the late king and queen and members of their family. 

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