Baluwatar land grab scam: Several accused have secured release on low bailThe maximum bail amount set by the Special Court in the multi-million rupee fraud case is Rs 500,000.
The Special Court on Friday released Uma Kumari Dhakalni, wife of Shova Kanta Dhakal, a key defendant in the Baluwatar land grab case, on a bail of Rs 200,000.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed a corruption case at the Special Court in February last year against 175 individuals including Dhakalni for their alleged involvement in the multi-million rupee land scam.
Dhakalni is accused of causing a loss of Rs9.1 million to the state for her involvement in the incident involving distribution of a state-owned land to private individuals by creating fake tenants.
But she is not the only defendant in the case whom the court has released on low bail amounts.
Special Court Spokesperson Pushpa Raj Pandeya told the Post the maximum bail amount set for the release of the accused in the case is Rs500,000.
According to Pandeya, the Special Court has so far taken decisions on 110 defendants. The majority of the defendants have either been released on bail or general dates.
“Two defendants, Deep Bashnyat, former chief commissioner of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority, and Krishna Poudel, former officer at Dillibazar Land Revenue Office, have been sent to judicial custody,” he said.
Most defendants who have appeared before the court have secured bail release, paying a small amount against what they have been accused of purloining from the state.
For example, two former ministers, Chhabi Raj Pant and Dambar Shrestha, both accused of defrauding the state of Rs96.5 million each, were released on bail amount of Rs500,000.
Pant was secretary at the land reform ministry at the time the decision was taken to distribute the land to fake tenants.
After retiring from bureaucracy, Pant went on to become a minister in the election government led by former Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi. Former minister Shrestha had approved the proposal presented by Pant regarding providing the land ownership to fake tenants.
Similarly, former minister Chandra Dev Joshi was released on a general date, citing his age and generally poor financial condition of his family.
Pandeya, the Special Court spokesperson, said that it was up to the judges to decide the bail amount.
Gauri Bahadur Karki, former chairperson at the Special Court, said judges take decisions on whether to release a defendant on general date, on bail, or send him or her in judicial custody based on the degree of offence.
“But we can see many disparities on such decisions based on who the judges are,” he said.
Other key accused, including former deputy prime minister Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, Bhatbhateni Departmental Store owner Min Bahadur Gurung and the agent duo Shova Kanta Dhakal and Ram Kumar Subedi, are yet to appear before the court.
Karki said that he wanted to see the court taking harsher measures against the key accused who are close to the corridors of power.
“The bail amount set against them should not be in the same range as that of the other accused,” he said.