In a recent major anti-corruption move, the government has reopened the file related to the notorious Lalita Niwas land scam after conducting a detailed investigation into it. The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police has arrested seven people in this connection. THey were allegedly involvement in illegally transferring the ownership of public land located in Lalita Niwas, Baluwatar into the name of private individuals. Among those arrested include former election commissioner Sudhir Shah, owner of Bhat Bhateni Supermarket Min Bahadur Gurung and former employees at the Land Revenue Office, Dillibazar Kaladhar Deuja. However, three of the arrested people have been released citing the last year’s Supreme Court interim order. The police is likely to nab more people in this connection. The police, on Wednesday, presented them before the Kathmandu District Court, seeking their remand in custody.
The government has given a green signal to the Nepal Police to prosecute the people involved in the Lalita Niwas land grab scandal a couple of weeks after the Kathmandu District Court sent 16 individuals involved in the fake Bhutanese refugee scam to jail. It is one of the big frauds involving the top politicians and bureaucrats. The police began to investigate the case after a government-formed committee in 2018 revealed that 113 ropanis of land out of 285 belonging to the government were illegally transferred to some individuals’ names. The CIB started investigation into the matter in 2021 and submitted its report to the Kathmandu District Government Attorney’s Office making more than 300 individuals as defendants. Then, the Attorney’s Office returned the report to the CIB, pointing out the need for further investigation into the case. The CIB had recommended that prosecutions of those involved in the scam should be initiated by January 11, 2022 as per the Criminal (Code) Act 2017. With the new steps, the CIB is likely to complete the investigation process as the arrestees were the key figures in forging the documents to change the ownership of lands in the private individuals through fraudulent acts. Meanwhile, Minister for Communication and Information Technology Rekha Sharma has assured that anyone involved in the scam would be brought to book. She also added that the government made this decision as per its commitment to maintain good governance and contain corruption. The legal action against the alleged fraudsters has raised hope among the general public that the government is capable of rooting out corruption and bribery in the country.