Police have made three more arrests in connection with the Baluwatar land grab scam.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police Dinesh Acharya, the Central Intelligence Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police arrested three more people over their alleged involvement in the scam on Sunday.
Those arrested are Shivaji Bhattarai, Baburaja Maharjan and Ghaman Kumar Karki.
The CIB on Tuesday arrested seven persons including promoter of Bhatbhateni Min Bahadur Gurung and former election commissioner Sudheer Kumar Shah in connection with the Baluwatar land grab.
Along with Gurung and Shah, Kaladhar Deuja, the then chief of the Dilli Bazaar Land Revenue Office, and LRO employees Dharma Prasad Gautam, Surendra Man Kapali, Gopal Karki, and Hupendra Mani KC were also arrested on Tuesday.
Deuja, Kapali and KC were released later the same day after it emerged that they had obtained stay orders from the Supreme Court against their arrest.
Shah served as election commissioner from February 16, 2017, to April 11, 2019.
Police said that the CIB had been investigating the case and arrested the seven after collecting further evidence against them.
The CIB had submitted its report to the District Government Attorney’s Office (DGAO), Kathmandu, in December 2021 after completing its investigation into the case. But the DGAO had returned the report instructing the CIB to carry out further investigation.
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 prime minister'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 the 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-UML leader and former finance minister Bishnu Paudel was also dragged into the controversy as eight annas out of the 113 ropanis has been transferred in the name of his son Navin.
But Paudel and Supreme Court (SC) Justice Kumar Regmi have not been charged in the scam after they agreed to return the land in the name of Paudel's son Navin and Regmi respectively.
"It does not seem necessary to make them defendants as they have agreed to return the land plots inside Lalita Niwas to the Nepal Government in their statement to the investigation officer and the application filed with the CIAA," the CIAA charge sheet stated.
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.