Kathmandu, Sept 5: The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has summoned more than four dozen individuals for interrogation in connection with the high profile Lalita Niwas land scam.
Through a public notice in Gorkhapatra daily on Wednesday, the CIAA gave a seven-day deadline to 58 individuals including two officials of Guthi Sansthan to appear in person at its office in Tangal, Kathmandu.
Pradip Kumar Koirala, CIAA spokesperson, said that the anti-graft body issued the ultimatum after they failed to show up despite repeated requests. Of them, 54 individuals were directly or indirectly involved in transaction of the land.
“We had requested them to be present at the CIAA office through letters, telephone calls and text messages among other things. They did not come,” said Koirala. He said that the CIAA would take more stringent actions if they fail to show up within the given deadline.
The scam involves all except 14 ropani and 11 ana of the total 299 ropani 9 ana and 3 paisa of land at Lalita Niwas, Baluwatar sold by Subarna Shumsher Rana and his family to the government before going into hands of land mafia. Ranas, who are also defendants on the case, claim that the land was unlawfully captured from them during the Panchyat era. A probe committee formed under former secretary Sharada Prasad Trital has disclosed that the ownership of the land was transferred with the involvement of the then prime minister, ministers, secretaries, and officials at land revenue and survey offices in Kathmandu.
Wednesday’s notice is second such ultimatum issued in last two months. In June, the CIAA had summoned 86 individuals including the owners of Bhatbhateni Supermarket and Goyal Group after it could not reach out to them.
The CIAA has not been able to establish identity or locate the whereabouts of more than five dozen tenants including Nati Maharjan, Laxmi Narayan Maharjan and Kanchha Maharjan that official believe never existed in reality.
CIAA has already recorded the statements of more than two dozen individuals including politicians, bureaucrats and judges for their alleged role in illegal transfer of the government-owned land. The politicians interrogated by the CIAA included NCP general secretary Bishnu Paudel and Nepali Congress deputy parliamentary party leader Bijaya Kumar Gachhadhar.
On March 12, a meeting of the cabinet had decided to bring the illegally-transferred land back under the ownership of the government and frozen the transaction of the 113 ropani and 3 ana of the Lalita Niwas land.