Ex-Karnali minister released on bail in banking offence caseKhadka Bahadur Katri, sacked provincial minister for physical infrastructure development, appeared before the court on Wednesday 22 days after the court order to do so in three days.
The Patan High Court on Wednesday released Khadka Bahadur Katri, the sacked minister for physical infrastructure development of Karnali Province who is facing a banking offence case, on Rs500,000 bail.
Khatri, who is also a contractor, is one of the five defendants in the case filed by the Agriculture Development Bank Limited for submitting a fake bank guarantee of the bank to the Bhojpur District Technical Office to receive mobilisation advance from that office. Mobilisation advance is given to start construction work against the advance payment guarantee.
He appeared in the court 22 days after the court, on August 13, ordered the police to hand him in within three days. When the court issued the order three weeks ago, he was the sitting minister of Karnali.
Since then, Karnali Chief Minister Mahendra Bahadur Shahi sacked him and Khatri went into hiding for three weeks before appearing in the court on Wednesday.
A joint bench of judges Nahakul Subedi and Tek Prasad Dhugana on Wednesday ordered that he should submit a bail amount of Rs500,000 to be released or serve a jail term for the failure to post the amount.
“He duly submitted a bank guarantee equivalent to the amount and got released but he has to attend the court on the date given by the court,” said Baburam Dahal, registrar at Patan High Court. “The Nepalgunj branch of Nepal Bangladesh Bank gave a bank guarantee for his release.”
According to the charge sheet, Khatri as a shareholder of MK Nirman Sewa, whose joint venture with YP Construction had got the contract of improving the Bhojpur Taskar-Gogane-Lekkharka Road in Bhopur, was involved in submitting two separate fake bank guarantees in collusion with the other defendants—Raju Prasad Shrestha, Chhabi Lal Dhakal, Randhir Tumba and Dev Jung Shahi.
They were involved in creating two separate advance payment guarantees of the Agriculture Development Bank worth Rs5.55 million and Rs5.53 million and presenting them to the District Technical Office Bhojpur on June 10 and November 4, 2016, respectively.
By submitting the fake bank guarantee, Tumba had received Rs5.53 million and Shahi Rs5.55 million from the Bhojpur District Technical Office, according to the charge-sheet. The amount was transferred to a joint account of five defendants at the Rastriya Banijya Bank, Bhojpur, which they used for themselves, the charge says.
According to the court order on Wednesday, Khatri accepted that he had a joint account with other defendants at Rastriya Banijya Bank, Bhojpur where the advance payment released from Bhojpur District Technical Office was deposited.
Khatri didn’t reject that the amount was also withdrawn from the Rastriya Banijya Bank using the cheque also signed by him, the court order says. Considering this, the court said that it could not deem Khatri innocent in the case based on immediately available evidence.
Earlier, in July, Chhabi Lal Dhakal, Randhir Tumba and Dev Jung Shahi were released on bails of Rs600,000 each. Among the defendants, Raju Prasad Shrestha is still at large, according to High Court Spokesperson Mohan Subedi.
Ex-minister Khatri was elected to the Provincial Assembly from Surkhet-1 (B) in the 2017 elections of the ticket of the erstwhile CPN-UML, which became the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) following the merger with the erstwhile CPN (Maoist Centre). He eventually became a minister in the Karnali government.
Even after becoming the minister, Khatri continued his construction business. His company, KSK Construction, a ‘B’ class construction company, in Surkhet, undertook a number of projects under his own ministry, in a clear case of conflict of interests.
His company is reportedly working on over a dozen contracts under the Water Resources and Irrigation Development Division of his ministry.
Of them, seven contracts were awarded to his company before the division came under the provincial government. After he assumed office, the ministry awarded his company four contracts—Chingadkhola Control Project, Itramkhola Control Project, Sotkhola Control Project and Bheri River Control Project.
Another three road projects under the Division Road Office, Surkhet where his company was involved as a contractor, were also brought under his ministry after the handover of these projects to the provincial government.