August 7, 2023
KATHMANDU – The Supreme Court has ordered the Home Ministry to launch an investigation against members of the then Cabinet for their alleged involvement in making decisions to transfer the ownership of the Lalita Niwas land in Baluwatar in the name of private individuals.
A division bench of justices Anil Kumar Sinha and Kumar Chudal, hearing on a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of Yograj Paudel, a former employee arrested in connection with the scam, on Sunday ordered investigation against all those involved in the decision taken by the Council of Ministers.
The top court’s order has opened the door for investigations against the then prime ministers Madhav Kumar Nepal and Baburam Bhattarai for their alleged involvement in the scam.
Nepal was prime minister from May 25, 2009 to February 6, 2011. Similarly, Bhattarai was prime minister from August 29, 2011 to March 14, 2013.
On February 5, 2020, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed corruption charges against 175 individuals in relation to the land grab.
However, the anti-graft body had spared a number of key people, including former prime ministers Nepal and Bhattarai, even though it has admitted that the decisions to illegally transfer government land into private hands were taken during their tenures.
The CIAA had said that the former prime ministers were not implicated because the decisions were the Cabinet’s policy decisions, over which it has no jurisdiction. The commission did not implicate Nepal and Bhattarai based on Section 4 of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority Act, which says the anti-graft body cannot investigate the “policy decisions” of the Cabinet or the committees under it.