The Special Court has sentenced former minister and the then chairman of Social Welfare Council Badri Prasad Neupane to nine and a half years in prison and fined him Rs 24.37 million while slapping a fine of Rs 12.18 million on suspended Nepali Congress lawmaker Tek Bahadur Gurung for corruption.
The court on Thursday slapped jail sentences and fines on nine persons including Neupane and Gurung convicted of committing irregularities while leasing out land to Fun Park, an amusement park at Bhrikuti Mandap, Kathmandu, by lowering the price.
According to Narad Prasad Bhattarai, information officer at the Special Court, the court has sentenced former minister Neupane to nine and a half years in prison; the then vice-chairman of Social Welfare Council Pramod Mehta to eight and a half years; the then member of Social Welfare Council Rabindra Kumar, also known as Rabindra Kumar Yadav, to nine years; and the then member of Social Welfare Council Mohan Raj Sharma, Madan Kumar Lal Karna and Hari Neupane to eight years. The court has also slapped a fine of Rs 24,368,803 on each of them, and additionally ordered them to pay an amount equal to the fine in claims.
The court has not pronounced a jail term on Fun Park operator Rabindra Kumar Gurung but fined him the same amount as others and also ordered him to pay an equal amount in claims.
Suspended lawmaker Gurung, who was charged with corruption as the authorized representative of Rabindra Kumar Gurung by CIAA, has been fined half the amount as others and not been given a jail sentence, according to Bhattarai.
Gurung was elected to the House of Representatives from Manang in the November 20 general election but remains suspended as lawmaker with the corruption case against him sub judice in the Special Court.
The court has stated that Gurung was given half the punishment as an accomplice of the main accused, Rabindra Kumar Gurung.
The court has not pronounced a jail term or fine on Kunja Bihari Prasad Chaudhary, the then treasurer of Social Welfare Council, as he has already died but ordered confiscation of Rs 24,368,803 from his family.
The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed a case against 14 persons on February 4, 2019, charging them with corruption in the operation of Fun Park.
A bench of Special Court Chairman Shreekanta Paudel and judges Shaligram Koirala and Balabhadra Bastola had convicted nine of them of corruption and acquitted the other five on February 28 this year.
CIAA had accused them of deciding to lease out 60 ropanis of land owned by Social Welfare Council to Fun Park flouting criteria, standards and process. It had claimed that the decision by an operating committee meeting headed by Neupane on September 5, 2012 had caused a loss of Rs 3,152,17,675 to the state.
The meeting had decided to lease the land to Rabindra Gurung and his authorized representative Tek Bahadur Gurung for 15 years.
CIAA had stated in its charge sheet filed at the Special Court that the Council’s office-bearers, in collusion with Gurung, had flouted the law, criteria and procurement process and caused losses and damages to the government.