Special Court Renders Verdict in Lalita Niwas Land-Grab Scam: Heavy Fines and Jail Terms Imposed

KATHMANDU: In a landmark decision, the Special Court has delivered its verdict on the notorious Lalita Niwas land-grab scam, imposing heavy fines and jail terms on individuals found guilty.

The joint bench of judges, comprised of Khusi Prasad Tharu, Ram Bahadur Thapa, and Ritendra Thapa, concluded the hearing on Tuesday and officially announced the verdict on Thursday, after 23 days of intense legal proceedings.

The case, initially filed by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on February 5, 2020, accused several individuals of unlawfully transferring ownership of government land to private entities. In its charge-sheet, the CIAA sought the recovery of 136 ropanis of land, implicating 175 individuals in the process.

Among the high-profile figures involved in the scandal were former deputy prime minister Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, former minister Chandra Dev Joshi, and Bhatbhateni owner Min Bahadur Gurung. Notably, the Special Court has cleared Gachchhadar, former minister for Land Reform Chandra Dev Joshi, and Secretary Dinesh Hari Adhikari of any wrongdoing.

However, the court handed down convictions to several key figures, including Bhatbhateni owner Min Bahadur Gurung, who received a cash fine of Rs 8.048 million and a two-year jail term. Accompanying Gurung in the verdict were former Secretaries Deep Basnyat and Chhabi Raj Panta, along with land agents Ram Kumar Subedi and Shova Kant Dhakal, all found guilty of orchestrating the land scam.

In a bold move, the court ordered the confiscation of land plots held by 65 accused individuals, emphasizing a strong stance against the illicit acquisition of government property. Particularly, the court targeted Samarjung Company, directing the confiscation of all land plots that were fraudulently transferred through the creation of fake guthi (trusts) and land tenants.

Moreover, officials of the Guthi Sansthan implicated in the case are facing severe penalties. Those found guilty have been ordered to pay a cash fine of Rs 4.1 million each and serve a one-year jail term.

The Lalita Niwas land-grab scandal has been a matter of significant public concern, and the Special Court’s verdict is anticipated to send a strong message against corruption and fraudulent land transactions. As the legal proceedings conclude, the decision underscores the commitment to upholding justice and combating corruption within the nation.

Fiscal Nepal |
Friday February 16, 2024, 09:11:47 AM |

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