SC reduces prison sentence of govt officer, four others

KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court (SC) today reduced jail sentence of an administrator who was previously sentenced for one and a half years by the Patan Appellate Court in a corruption case.

A division bench of Justices Ram Prasad Shrestha and Sushila Karki reduced the sentence imposed on Land Reform Officer Shanta Prasad Poudel and four other co-accused who registered 11 ropanies of Nandi Keshar Guthi land of plot No 479 situated at KMC Ward No 1 to tenants Hirandya Kanta Neupane, Gita Thapa and Gayatri Raut with the pressure of then minister, secretary and high level bureaucrats.

The Patan Appellate Court had imposed the sentence to them convicting for their involvement in illegally transferring the guthi land in their names. Land Reform Officer Poudel get one year three months jail term; non gazetted official Lekhnath Niroula tenants Hirandya Kanta Neupane each get one year jail term and Geeta Thapa and Gayatri Raut get six months jail term in bribery cases.

The Land Reform Officer revealed before the court that he had transferred the Guthi land in the name of the tenants based on intense pressure from then Land Reform Minister Siddha Raj Ojha, Secretary Sarad Kumar Bhattarai and Director General Shambhu Prasad Shrestha.

While recording his statement before the court, he revealed that he had transferred the Guthi land in the name of the individuals with the pressure of the minister and secretary and Director General of the Department of Land Reforms.

"Though I decided to transfer the land into the names of the tenants I have received continuous pressure from them to appoint them as tenants," he revealed while recording his statements before the court.

The bench, however, observed that since his illegal decision was already revoked by another Land Reform Officer Kaladhar Deuja, there was no need to award the sentence to Poudel and the other convicted. The bench imposed Rs 5,000 fine to all the accused convicting them of being involved in the illegal transfer of the Guthi land and issued a clean chit to non-gazetted official Lekhnath Niroula citing that the latter had begun the process with the pressure of the Land Reform Officer Poudel. When the Patan Appellate Court convicted them, they moved the apex court challenging the sentence imposed on them. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had prosecuted them 13 years back in the Patan Appellate Court seeking sentence as per Section 7 and 8 of then Corruption Prevention Act, 1960.