The Kathmandu District Court has issued an order for the release of 18 individuals accused in the Lalita Niwas land grab scam. The court’s decision comes with 17 of the accused being granted bail, while one person has been scheduled for a general court date. These individuals had been in judicial custody for the past two months.
Judge Bholanath Dhakal, presiding over a single bench, handed down the order on Sunday. Notably, the court has set a bail bond of Rs 24.6 million for Min Bahadur Gurung, the owner of Bhatbhateni Superstore.
The legal proceedings stem from cases of forgery of government documents filed by the District Attorney’s Office, Kathmandu, on August 27. A total of 310 individuals, including former ministers and current and retired high-ranking bureaucrats, were implicated in connection with the Lalita Niwas land scam.
Among the notable figures facing charges of forgery are former deputy prime minister Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, former ministers Chandra Deo Joshi, Dambar Bahadur Shrestha, and Chhabi Raj Pant, as well as former minister of state Sanjay Sah. Additionally, sitting government secretary Krishna Bahadur Raut and joint secretary Sushil Vaidya have been named as defendants in the case.
Other individuals accused of forgery include former chief commissioner of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority Deep Basnyat and former government secretaries Dineshhari Adhikari, Narayan Gopal Malego, and Yubaraj Bhusal.
In addition to these government officials, middlemen Shobhakant Dhakal and Ram Kumar Subedi, as well as Bhatbhateni Supermarket owner Min Bahadur Gurung, have been identified as key figures in the alleged land scam.
Notably, former prime ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Baburam Bhattarai escaped prosecution as the police did not take their deposition despite their interrogation as government witnesses. The Supreme Court’s August 6 order had mandated investigations into their roles in the case.
The Lalita Niwas land area encompasses approximately 300 ropanis (around 15 hectares) of land, including areas near the prime minister’s residence, the Nepal Rastra Bank’s central office, and some VIP residences.