Patan High Court issues interim order barring Sushil Bhatta from assuming office as CEO of investment boardThe court has summoned the two parties in the case for a hearing on August 16 to decide the legitimacy of Bhatta’s appointment.
The Patan High Court has issued an interim order barring Sushil Bhatta, newly appointed chief executive officer of Investment Board Nepal, from assuming office for at least five days.
On Monday, advocate Jaya Bahadur Bhujel had filed the writ petition challenging Bhatta’s appointment, saying that he was not fit for the job and that his appointment was in violation of the legal provision.
A Cabinet meeting on August 3 had decided to appoint Bhatta to the post of the CEO of the investment board.
According to a copy of order obtained by the Post, a single bench of Chief Judge Nahakul Subedi on Tuesday issued an interim order barring Bhatta from assuming his new role as the CEO of the investment board at least until August 16, the day when the court is due to conduct a hearing on Bhatta’s qualifications.
In his writ petition, Bhujel has argued that Bhatta does not have the managerial experience as required by Public Private Partnership and Investment Act to helm the investment board.
The petitioner has also questioned Bhatta’s reputation as an agent for various building and contracting firms, whose contracts had been terminated by the government for failing to deliver the projects.
The government had to terminate contracts with 13 companies handled by Bhatta after poor performance in project implementation, Bhujel has stated in the petition.
The court has summoned both parties in the case for the August 16 hearing. The defendants in the case are Bhatta, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Finance and the Investment Board Nepal.
“The court will decide whether to continue the interim order after listening to the arguments from both sides,” said Shambu Prasad Regmi, spokesperson at the high court.
The court has also ordered the defendants to come up with evidence as to why the order should not be issued as demanded by the writ petitioner within 15 days, excluding the days required for delivery of evidence.
“These details were sought to take decision on whether to annul the appointment of Bhatta,” said Regmi.
The High Court has also its bar to present two senior advocates or advocates to form an amicus curiae to help settle the issue of public importance.
The government’s decision to appoint Bhatta had invited widespread criticism from different quarters. Many have argued that Bhatta’s appointment was influenced by his brother, Deepak Bhatta, who remains the agent of many foreign companies including China Gezhouba Group, which was awarded the contract to develop the 1200 MW Budhi Gandaki Hydroelectric Project in September 2018.
In his petition, Bhujel has said that Bhatta’s appointment as the board’s CEO could lead to conflict of interest as his brother is working for a major project and he himself had worked as an agent for many building and contracting companies in the past.
Bhujel has also warned that Bhatta’s appointment could discourage domestic and foreign investments.