Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, an accused in Baluwatar land scam, released on Rs1 million bailThe Congress vice-president is released a day after his party president Deuba was appointed prime minister.
The Special Court on Wednesday released Nepali Congress politician Bijaya Kumar Gachhadar, one of the main accused in the Baluwatar land scam, on bail after he surrendered before the court, nearly a year and a half after the case against him was registered.
“After recording his statement and conducting a hearing on whether to release him on bail or send him to judicial custody, he was released on Rs1 million bail,” said Pushpa Raj Pandeya, spokesperson for the Special Court.
A joint bench of Prem Raj Karki, Abdul Ajij Musalman and Nityananda Pandeya took a decision to grant Gachhadar bail, according to the court.
Gachhadar, a former deputy prime minister and Congress vice-president, had turned himself in to the court on Wednesday morning, a day after his party’s president, Sher Bahadur Deuba, became prime minister.
In February 2020, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed corruption cases against 175 individuals, including Gachhadar and two other former ministers, for illegally transferring the government land at Baluwatar in Kathmandu to private individuals.
Special Court spokesperson Pandeya said the court had sent follow-up letters in the name of Gachhadar repeatedly to present himself before the court.
Gachhadar faces charges of irregularities worth Rs96.57 million.
Gachhadar, who was elected to the House of Representatives from Sunsari in 2017 elections, was suspended as a lawmaker as soon as the case was filed as per the Corruption Prevention Act-2002.
Even though the court didn’t send Gachhadar to judicial custody, the bail amount sought from him is among the highest, according to court officials. Of the total 175 accused in the case, the Special Court has so far recorded statements of over 100.
Most of them have been released either on bail or remanded at large
According to the details available to the Post, most of the accused in the case who were released on bail were asked to pay Rs500,000 or less.
Deep Basnyat, former chief commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Shobha Kanta Dhakal, one of the key middlemen in the case, and Krishna Prasad Poudel, former staff member at the Dillibazar-based land revenue office, were among a few defendants who were denied bail immediately.
Gachhadar, who is also a senior leader of the ruling Nepali Congress party, appeared before the court just a day after party president Sher Bahadur Deuba became Prime Minister.
In 2010, Gachhadar was deputy prime minister and minister for physical infrastructure in the government led by Madhav Kumar Nepal of the CPN-UML.
His ministry had made proposals to the Cabinet to register the land plots at Baluwatar in the name of dozens of individuals and fake tenants in order to expand the prime minister’s residence.
Based on the proposal, the Cabinet had decided to expand the prime minister’s residence and build a road inside Lalita Niwas by paying compensation to the people who had grabbed the land on the basis of government decisions taken in 1990.
In principle, the decision on providing lands to the tenants should have gone to the Cabinet through the erstwhile Land Reforms Ministry. But the proposal was taken by overstepping the jurisdiction of the Physical Infrastructure Ministry.
Basnyat, who was then the secretary of the ministry, had prepared the proposal and the Special Court in late January had sent him to judicial custody. He was released in May on bail with the order of the Supreme Court.