Special Court sends former anti-graft body chief Deep Basnyat to judicial custodyThe agency he once headed had filed charges for corruption in a case when he was a ministry secretary in 2010.
A former chief of the country’s anti-corruption agency on Sunday was sent to judicial custody on corruption charges. The case was initiated by the same agency which he once headed.
The Special Court ordered on Sunday that Deep Basnyat, who headed the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority from May 2017 to February 2018, be sent to judicial custody for investigation into charges of taking a proposal of distributing government land in the name of “fake tenants” going beyond his jurisdiction when he was the secretary at the then Ministry of Physical Planning and Construction in 2010.
“The Special Court has asked the police to keep Bansyat in custody until a final verdict on the case is issued,” Pushpa Raj Pandeya, spokesperson for the Special Court, told the Post.
The order was passed by a bench of Special Court chair Prem Raj Karki and judges Abdul Aziz Musalman and Nitya Nanda Pandeya.
Earlier this year, the commission had filed a corruption case in February against Basnyat along with 174 people including three former ministers—Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, Dambar Shrestha and Chandra Dev Joshi—with regard to the Baluwatar land-grab scandal.
There is a long history behind how the Baluwatar land scam unfolded.
In essence, the land belonging to what is known as Lalita Niwas, Baluwatar, acquired by the government lawfully during the Panchayat regime by paying compensation, was distributed to private individuals by creating fake tenants under the influence of some middlemen after the restoration of democracy in 1990.
How the government land was distributed to private individuals at the behest of some ministers and government officials is known as the Baluwatar land scam.
Basnyat is the first former chief commissioner of the anti-graft body to face corruption charges.
He, however, is the second office bearer from the commission to face corruption charges after Raj Narayan Pathak, who was caught on videotape admitting to accepting Rs7.8 million to settle the ownership dispute of a Bhaktapur-based college. The Special Court, however, released Pathak on bail in May 2019.
Basnyat is being investigated by the commission also for amassing property through illegal means, while the Department of Money Laundering Investigation is also looking into his involvement in money laundering.
In November last year, officials at the Department of Money Laundering Investigation told the Post that Basnyat was being investigated for transferring money to foreign countries.
One official involved in the probe against Basnyat had told the Post last year that the anti-graft body had received several complaints against Basnyat ever since the anti-money laundering body initiated a probe into his assets.
“We have received complaints against Basnyat of taking bribes from some people by asking his own men to register a fake complaint during his tenure at the commission,” the official said.
The ongoing investigation had concluded that Basnyat had amassed huge property and tried to hide his gains, according to the department official.
Basnyat, a long-time bureaucrat, was appointed the chief commissioner of the anti-graft agency after Lok Man Singh Karki was disqualified by the Supreme Court for the job.
In its chargesheet against Basnyat, the anti-graft agency had said that he had caused the Nepal government a loss worth Rs96.576 million.
The anti-corruption agency had demanded the same amount in fines from him and 8 to 10 years of imprisonment.
Spokesperson Pandeya said that Basnyat can appeal to the Supreme Court if he is not satisfied with Sunday’s Special Court order.