Gachhadar among 175 booked for land grab

Kathmandu, February 5

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority today filed corruption case against 175 individuals, including former Deputy Prime Minister and Nepali Congress Vice President Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, former ministers Dambar Shrestha and Chandra Dev Joshi for their role in Lalita Niwas land grab case. The anti-graft body also named Rukma Shumsher JB Rana and his family members as defendants in the case.

The CIAA accused Gachhadar and Shrestha of embezzling Rs 9.65 crore each. It accused Joshi of embezzling 7.08 crore.

Shobha Kanta Dhakal and Ram Kumar Subedi, who have been accused of acting as land mafia, have also been named defendants in the case. The CIAA accused Dhakal and Subedi of embezzling Rs 39.27 and Rs 52.51 crore, respectively. It also accused Bhatbhateni owner Min Bahadur Gurung of embezzling over Rs 50 crore.

Former secretaries Deep Basnyat, Chhabi Raj Panta and Dineshhari Adhikari have also been indicted in the case. The anti-graft body accused Basnyat and Panta of embezzling Rs 9.65 crore each. Adhikari has been accused of embezzling 7.08 crore.

Basnyat later became commissioner of the CIAA and was promoted to the post of chief commissioner before his retirement from service.

The anti-graft body also named current Judge of Chitwan District Court Binod Kumar Gautam as a defendant, accusing him of submitting wrong legal opinion when he was posted at the Prime Minister’s Office, 10 years ago. Gautam has been accused of embezzling Rs 9.65 crore.

The CIAA stated in the charge-sheet 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.

READ ALSO: CIAA books 175 for corruption in Lalita Niwas land-grab case

The CIAA said it did not name Navin Paudel, who is the son of Nepal Communist Party (NCP) General Secretary Bishnu Paudel, and Kumar Regmi defendants for purchasing Lalita Niwas land as they deposed before it that they were ready to return the land to the government.

The CIAA said the accused in the Lalita Niwas land grab case colluded with government authorities to transfer land plots in their names.

When asked what will be the status of Gachhadar in the House of Representatives now that a corruption case has been filed against him, Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna, who is also a senior advocate, said the CIAA Act stipulated that a public post holder would be automatically suspended once a corruption case was filed against him/ her. He added that HoR Regulation stipulated that a lawmaker who had been indicted in a criminal case and was sent to judicial custody would be barred from receiving facilities a lawmaker was entitled to till s/he remained in judicial custody.

He said Samajbadi Party-Nepal  lawmaker Hari Narayan Prasad Sah Rauniyar was automatically suspended after a corruption case was filed against him. Rukma Shumsher Rana, Hatak Shumsher Rana and Hemadri Shumsher Rana, family members of late Nepali Congress leader Subarna Shumsher Rana, had issued a press release in May denying allegations levelled against them in the Lalita Niwas land-grab case.

Family of the late Rana 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.

They said they sold all the land plots that they reclaimed in Baluwatar on the basis of the government’s decisions taken on May 28, May 31 and July 23 in 1990.

Sharada Prasad Trital-led probe committee had submitted its report saying the government had forfeited only 14 ana land of Subarna Shumsher and had paid compensation to Subarna Shumsher for acquiring 284 ropani land. As per the Trital committee’s recommendations, the government has halted the sale and purchase of Lalita Niwas area land plots.