Among those detained on Tuesday were former election commissioner Sudhir Shah and Min Bahadur Gurung, owner of the Bhatbhateni shop.
Seven arrested in the Lalita Niwas land fraud
People are being detained by the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of the Nepal Police on suspicion of forging official documents with the aim of transferring ownership of public land at Lalita Niwas, Baluwatar, in the names of private parties.
The CIB, according to the police, detained seven people on Tuesday, including former Dillibazar Land Revenue Office chief Kaladhar Deuja and ex-election commissioner Sudhir Shah, as well as Min Bahadur Gurung, proprietor of the Bhatbhateni grocery.
Surendra Kapali, Dharma Prasad Gautam, Hupendra Mani KC, and Gopal Karki are the other suspects.
However, later in the day, the CIB freed Deuja, KC, and Kapali, citing the Supreme Court’s ruling from the previous year.
On August 4 of last year, the Supreme Court issued a temporary ruling authorizing the beginning of investigations without placing them in custody.
“More arrests will follow,” a CIB insider promised the Post. The remaining six, with the exception of Gopal Karki, are also defendants in a corruption case brought by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) in connection with the land fraud on February 5, 2020.
Seven people were detained on Tuesday after the District Court in Kathmandu issued an arrest warrant for them at the request of the CIB, according to Additional Inspector General Kiran Bajracharya, the head of the CIB, who spoke to The Post. They will be looked into for potential legal action related to the falsification of official records, according to Bajracharya. We’ll check with the Kathmandu District Attorney’s Office to see if any other charges are appropriate.
Police have resumed making arrests on suspicion of participating in the land grab fraud about one and a half years after the District Attorney’s Office in Kathmandu sent the investigation report back to the CIB with a request for additional inquiry.
According to the police, additional arrests have been made as a result of independent investigations into those responsible for the falsification of official papers.
Although his wife Urmila Shah was named a defendant in the corruption lawsuit brought by the CIAA, the former election commissioner Shah was not.
The anti-graft organization had 175 people in its caseload. Of them, 110 were charged with corruption, and 65 were involved in court battles as the government demanded the restitution of lands they had gotten illegally.
Bijay Kumar Gachhadar, a former deputy prime minister and minister for physical infrastructure and transportation, as well as two former ministers for land reform, Dambar Shrestha and Chandra Dev Joshi, and three former government secretaries are among those charged with corruption in connection with the unauthorized transfer of public lands.
The majority of individuals accused with corruption, including Gurung, had previously been granted bail releases by the court.
On January 6 of last year, the CIB submitted its investigation report to the District Attorney Office in Kathmandu after concluding a separate investigation into the forgery of official documents in connection with the land scam. The report recommended the prosecution of more than 300 people, including high-ranking retired officials.
The Criminal (Code) Act-2017’s statute of limitations, which the CIB had cited, had mandated that prosecutions be brought by January 11, 2022.
The statute of limitations for cases of forging official papers is two years from the date of knowledge of the offence, according to Section 283 of the Criminal (Code) Act-2017.
However, the District Attorney’s Office returned the police report, urging more inquiries so that they might be charged under the General Code-2020 BS since the Baluwatar land grab occurred before the Criminal (Code) Act-2017 was put into effect.
“If a suit on any matter other than on the matter of forgery or fraud of a document bearing government seal or of any other document held in a government office or on any matter of verbal forgery or saying or writing any false designation or of dismissal of employees [parapajani] by saying or writing so is not filed within six months of its knowledge, from the date of cause of actio” (General Code, Point Number 18 under the “Forged Document or Forgery” section)
According to the Kathmandu District Attorney’s Office’s advice, the CIB therefore carried out its investigation. AIG Bajracharya stated, “We are now close to wrapping up the inquiry. “Some things need to be verified, and others need to be clarified.”
She claimed that the CIB’s interviews with the arrested people will be essential to wrapping up the investigation. According to Bajracharya, “those detained are members of the first layer of the accused who were involved in transferring the ownership of public lands into the names of individuals.”
For instance, Shah’s wife Urmila allegedly received a Lalita Niwas plot as a present in return for Shah’s assistance in transferring substantial portions of land in the names of the scammers.
Despite the fact that police detained seven persons on Tuesday, Bajacharya did not immediately disclose how many more will be detained and how many would be promptly charged with new offenses.
More than 300 people, including five former secretaries, should be prosecuted, the CIB suggested to the District Attorney General of Kathmandu at the beginning of the year. In addition to store owner Gurung of Bhatbhateni and alleged members of the land mafia Ram Kumar Subedi and Shobhakanta Dhakal, these individuals also included Deep Basnyat, Yubaraj Bhusal, Chhabi Raj Pant, Narayan Gopal Malego, and Dinesh Hari Adhikari.
However, Bajracharya made a suggestion that the ongoing inquiry would soon be finished. “After looking into a number of facets of the scheme, the CIB already handed the district attorney its investigative report. Therefore, there isn’t much to look into.
Before the anti-corruption organization launched its own investigation, the scam was first uncovered by a committee of inquiry headed by a former government secretary, Sharada Prasad Trital, and the case was investigated by the Central Investigation Bureau of the Nepal Police.
Subarna Sumsher Rana, a leader of the Nepali Congress, had some of his land taken by the Panchayat administration after the royal coup in 1960, although the regime also obtained larger plots by giving him compensation.
In 2019, a government commission found that 6.96487 hectares of public land, or 136 ropani 14 ana 2 paisa, had been improperly registered in the names of multiple people.
The Krishna Prasad Bhattarai-led Cabinet resolved to return the land that had been taken by the Panchayat regime in 1990 once democracy was restored. After that, a swindle started to take shape when Subarna Sumsher Rana’s ancestors received even the legally acquired lands back. Following that, the claimed land mafias were heavily involved in the sale and resale of such lands.