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Ex-princess petitions against SC verdict

Former princess Prerana Rajya Laxmi Devi Singh today filed a petition at the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court, demanding that the apex court’s verdict nationalising her 15 ropani and one ana land, also known as Vijayaghar in Chhauni, be declared ultra vires.

Striking down its one-and-half-year-old order, a full bench of the Supreme Court had on January 5, 2017, ordered the government to nationalise 15 ropani and one ana land owned by Singh, the daughter of former king Gyanendra.

She has also urged the court to scrap the government’s decision to nationalise her property which she got as a gift from her father Gyanendra when he was the king with all the powers and prerogative.

She said that the title of the property was held by former king Birendra which was transferred to her father former king Gyanendra before it was gifted to her. She argued that Nepal Trust Act, which came into force on January 6, 2008, was retroactively enforced from June 1, 2001 and hence it was illegal.

She stated in her petition, “The Supreme Court’s conclusion that Section 4 (1) and (2) of Nepal Trust Act, 2008 have retroactive effects, which allowed nationalisation of her property was unconstitutional and unfair. These two provisions should be declared ultra vires ab initio.”

Section 4 (1) of the Nepal Trust Act stipulates: Except otherwise provided by the Government of Nepal through nationalisation, the following property shall be held in the Trust:- (a) The property decided by the Government of Nepal to bring under the trust which remained in the name of King Birendra, Queen Aishwarya and their family members at the time of their demise.

Singh argued that the government decided only on October 25, 2010 to nationalise property held by Birendra, Aishwarya and his family members, but she had acquired the property as a gift before January 6, 2008.

She said the government only had the legal mandate to manage the property held by Birendra, Aishwarya and their family on January 6, 2008 and not the preceding date.

“Section 4 (1) of the act does not give the government the powers to nationalise property held by Birendra, Aishwarya and their family members at the time of their demise,” Singh stated in her petition.

She argued that as per Article 27 of the Constitution of Kingdom of Nepal, which was in force till January 15, 2007, the properties of the royal family were inviolable. She said there was no prevailing law before March 3, 2002 that allowed nationalisation of royal family’s property. Although the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 proclaimed that no executive powers would rest with the king, this constitution did not prohibit sale and purchase of royal property, she stated, adding that provisions of Nepal Trust Act violated the provisions of Interim Constitution and hence they should be declared ultra vires. She said that Vijayaghar was inherited by Birendra and was personal property. She has also sought an interim order against the notice issued by Nepal Trust on November 26 telling her to vacate the house.

A full bench then chief justice Sushila Karki and justices Deepak Kumar Karki and Sapana Pradhan Malla had struck down the order of the bench led by then chief justice Ram Kumar Prasad Shah and justice Cholendra SJB Rana issued on June 21, 2015 that had told the Nepal Trust to return the land to Singh.

The land situated in a posh area in Tahachal of Kathmandu is worth Rs 1 billion as per the current market rates.

Singh has named the Prime Minister’s Office; Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs; Ministry of Land Reform and Nepal Trust as defendants in the case.

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