December 15, 2023
KATHMANDU – The Patan High Court on Thursday ordered the authorities to release former home minister Bal Krishna Khand on Rs3 million bail.
A single bench of judge Krishnaram Koirala passed the order to release Khand, responding to an appeal filed against the decision of Kathmandu District Court to remand him to judicial custody in the fake Bhutanese refugee case.
Earlier on December 1, a bench of judges Janak Pandey and Prakash Kharel were divided on whether to give continuity to his judicial custody or release him on bail. Judge Pandey advocated for his release for Rs3 million in bail, while Kharel opted for imprisoning him.
The case was then forwarded to the bench of a third judge to decide.
On December 1, the Patan High Court upheld the June 16 decision of the Kathmandu District Court to send nine people including former deputy prime minister Top Bahadur Rayamajhi to judicial custody in the same case.
Besides Rayamajhi, the bench refused to release the then home minister Ram Bahadur Thapa’s adviser Indrajit Rai, former home secretary Tek Narayan Pandey, Keshav Prasad Dulal, and former Nepali Congress lawmaker Aang Tawa Sherpa. Also, middlemen involved in the case—Sanu Bhandari, Sandesh Sharma, Govinda Kumar Chaudhary and Sagar Rai—were also denied bail.
The court ordered authorities to release Sandeep Rayamajhi, son of former deputy prime minister Rayamajhi, on a bail of Rs3 million, and Bhutanese refugee leader Tek Nath Rizal, Ram Sharan KC and Hari Bhakta Maharjan on bail of Rs1.5 million each.
Likewise, bail amounts for Narendra KC and Shamsher Miya have been fixed at Rs1 million each.
On the other hand, Laxmi Maharjan, Ashish Budhathoki, Tanka Kumar Gurung and Keshav Tuladhar have been released without bail.
On June 16, The Kathmandu District Court sent 16 people including former ministers Rayamajhi and Khand to jail after a hearing in a fake Bhutanese refugee scam.
A single bench of judge Prem Prasad Neupane passed the order after the end of a detention hearing that continued for around two weeks.
The district court however released Gurung and Maharjan on bails of Rs1 million and Rs500,000, respectively. But they had moved the high court challenging the verdict.
On May 24, the District Attorney Office Kathmandu had filed criminal cases at the District Court Kathmandu against 30 individuals accused in the scam.
They have been charged with four types of crimes—treason, organised crime, fraud and forgery. The accused have been charge-sheeted for collecting Rs288.17 million from 115 victims—ranging from Rs150,000 to Rs4.8 million each—by promising to send them to the US as Bhutanese refugees.
Officials say that it is rare for politicians to face treason charges in such cases. Treason is an act of offence against the state