The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has decided to not lodge corruption case against CPN General Secretary Bishnu Paudel and Supreme Court (SC) Justice Kumar Regmi in Baluwatar land grab after they agreed to return the land in the name of Paudel's son Navin and Regmi respectively.
The constitutional anti-graft body on Wednesday lodged corruption case against 175 individuals including Nepali Congress (NC) Vice-president and former deputy prime minister Bijay Kumar Gachchhadar, two other former ministers and its former chief Deep Basnet in Baluwatar land grab. But it decided to not lodge corruption case against Paudel and Regmi after they gave statement and applied to return the land in their name.
"It does not seem necessary to make them defendants as they have agreed to return the land plots inside Lalita Niwas camp to the Nepal Government in their statement to the investigation officer and the application filed with the CIAA," the CIAA charge sheet states.
Regmi has claimed that he received the land for handling a case while working as advocate while Paudel has claimed that he bought the land.
The CIAA has written to the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation to bring the land in the name of Paudel and Regmi to government ownership.
Land Reform Minister Padma Aryal in the past has claimed that Paudel acquired the land as the sixth person after tenancy right was established. "The land is legal as it was bought from the tenant. Questions will probably not be asked again about the land where tenancy right has been established," she had stressed.
The record at the Land Revenue Office, Dilli Bazar, however, refutes her claims. The land currently owned by Paudel seems to have been first transferred to the name of Maya Prajapati as tenant.
It is not certain whether she is a genuine tenant or a fake one established by Shobha Kanta Dhakal and Ram Kumar Subedi dubbed the land mafia by the Trital committee.
The land was later transferred to Uma Kumari Dhakal and Madhavi Subedi, spouses of Dhakal and Subedi respectively. The land that was transferred to Dhakal and Subedi from tenant Prajapati was transferred to Paudel in 2004, according to the record at Land Revenue Office.
The government had formed a probe committee under former secretary Sharada Prasad Trital following complaints that government land at Baluwatar has been transferred to some individuals. The committee had submitted the report to the government in December 2018 concluding that the land transferred to individuals belonged to the government.
The committee stated that the then king Mahendra after the coup in 1951 had confiscated 14 ropanis land of Nepali Congress leader Suvarna Shumsher Rana and his son Kanchan Shumsher in Baluwatar.
The government four years later acquired 285 ropanis of Rana's land in Baluwatar by paying compensation. The PM's residence, chief justice's residence, speaker's residence and the central office of Nepal Rastra Bank are currently situated in 172 ropanis out of that 285 ropanis.
Land mafia in connivance with staffers at the Land Revenue Office has transferred ownership of the remaining 113 ropanis of land to different individuals, the committee has concluded.
CPN General Secretary and former finance minister Bishnu Paudel was dragged into the controversy as eight annas out of the 113 ropanis has been transferred in the name of his son Navin.