Gachhadar had only put his signature on the proposal that had to be forwarded to the Cabinet



Former deputy prime minister and vice-president of Nepali Congress Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, who has been indicted in Lalita Niwas land grab case, appeared before the Special Court today and posted a bail of Rs 1 million.

Bench of Special Court Chairman Prem Raj Karki, judges Abdul Aziz Musalman and Nityananda Pandey that conducted the trial hearing after Gachhadar appeared before the court asked him to post a bail of Rs 1 million.

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed on 6 February 2020 a corruption case against 175 individuals, including Gachhadar and former ministers Chandradev Joshi and Dambar Shrestha, for their alleged role in the infamous case.

The CIAA had accused Gachhadar of embezzling Rs 9.65 crore.

Gachhadar's lawyer Senior Advocate Harihar Dahal told the bench that since the proposal related to the expansion of roads and construction of buildings in Baluwatar areas where VIPs lived was prepared at the special instruction of the then prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal and was endorsed collectively by the Cabinet, Gachhadar had no individual role in it. Dahal said Gachhadar being the line minister had only put his signature on the proposal that had to be forwarded to the Cabinet. Dahal said the CIAA recorded the statement of former PM Nepal and after being convinced with his arguments, it decided not to file a case against him. The same criteria should have been applied in the case of Gachhadar, he added.

As per anti-graft laws, Cabinet decisions cannot come under the purview of the CIAA. The CIAA had stated in the chargesheet that the government had duly acquired 284 ropani land of Lalit Niwas but after restoration of democracy in 1990 those land plots were illegally transferred in individuals' names.

Sharada Prasad Trital-led probe committee had submitted its report saying the government had forfeited only 14 ana land of Subarna Shumsher JB Rana and had paid compensation to him for acquiring 284 ropani land.

Rana's kin claimed that the Panchayat government had confiscated 299 ropani land in Baluwatar that belonged to them.

The post democratic-era government returned only those land plots that were forfeited by the government in 1960 to punish Subarna Shumsher and Kanchan Shumsher for championing the cause of democracy.

Forty-two defendants accused in Lalita Niwas land grab case are yet to appear before the Special Court to contest the case.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 15 2021, of The Himalayan Times.