The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Nepal Police has initiated investigations on organized crime in the Baluwatar land grab case.
The CIB, that was earlier investigating the accused persons for forgery, has now started investigations for organized crime with permission of the Kathmandu District Court.
The CIB, that has arrested nine persons in connection to the case until now, sought extension of their custody through the District Government Attorney Office, Kathmandu on Tuesday. The Kathmandu District Court had granted custody for seven days for investigations on forgery when the accused were presented to the court on June 28.
The court granted extension of seven days on Tuesday for investigations on organized crime.
The quantum of punishment is higher in case of organized crime than forgery and the police can also get a longer custody for investigations on organized crime.
Accused persons can be kept in custody for up to 60 days for investigations on organized crime while those investigated for forgery can be kept for only up to 25 days, according to Chief of the District Government Attorney Office, Kathmandu Achyut Mani Neupane.
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 camp 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.