PAC takes up SC fiat backing sugar plant

Kathmandu, September 8:

The parliamentary Public Account Committee (PAC) today began discussion on a controversial verdict issued by the Supreme Court in favour of the Mahalaxmi Sugar Mills in a bank loan default case. The verdict had scrapped the decision taken by the Rastriya Banijya Bank (RBB), the Credit Information Centre (CIC) and Bankers’ Club (BC) to blacklist the Mills for “defaulting bank loan”.

The PAC decided to summon legal experts, including Attorney-General Yagya Murti Banjade, senior advocate, Radheshyam Adhikary, NBA president Shambhu Thapa, and former AGs Badri Bahadur Karki and Mahadev Yadav, to assist the parliamentary committee during the next meeting of the PAC on the matter, which is scheduled for Wednesday.

“In the first phase, we will hold discussions with legal experts. Then after, we may call the judges, who decided the case,” PAC chairman Chitra Bahadur KC told this daily after today’s meeting.

The committee has launched an investigation on the case as the verdict bars the authorities concerned from recovering bank loan amounting to Rs 1.38 billion from the Mills. In January, a division bench of justices Arjun Prasad Singh and Badri Kumar Basnet had issued the verdict, scrapping the decision to blacklist the Mills owned by businessmen, including Binod Chaudhary.

The PAC members have been raising questions over the verdict as the case w as decided when Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel had gone abroad and Justice Kedar Prasad Giri had taken the charge of acting chief Justice. About three weeks ago, the PAC had decided to probe and check if irregularities had occurred while deciding the case.

The PAC also called the Rastra Bank governor Bijaya Nath Bhattarai, its legal experts and the chief of Credit Information Centre to seek details on the case from them.

“We will not only summon the judges concerned, but also initiate an impeachment motion against them if we found that they had resorted to irregularities while deciding the case,” KC added. Responding to a writ petition filed by businessman Binod Chaudhary in January, the apex court judges had issued the verdict, scrapping the decision taken by RBB and CIC to blacklist the Mills. The bench had stated in the verdict that the RBB, CIC and BC had not exercised the authority given to them by the Nepal Rastra Bank. The judges had said in the verdict that they were not the real authority to blacklist the Mills.

Challenging the decision to blacklist their firm, businessmen, including Chaudhary, had filed the writ petition against two dozen banks and financial institutions, including the Rastra Bank, RBB and BC and the CIC.