The Kathmandu District Court has ordered the pre-trial detention of 16 individuals, which includes former ministers Balkrishna Khand and Top Bahadur Rayamajhi, as well as Secretary Teknarayan Pandey, for a preliminary investigation into the fake Bhutanese refugee scam.

A single bench of Justice Prem Prasad Neupane issued the order to keep 16 of the 18 defendants in jail on the charge of their involvement. Meanwhile, two individuals including Lakshmi Maharjan and Tanka Kumar Gurung were granted bail of Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh, respectively.

The other individuals who were detained include former Deputy Prime Minister Rayamajhi, former Home Minister Khand, security adviser Indrajit Rai, Secretary Pandey, Keshav Dulal, Sanu Bhandari, Bhutanese rights leader Teknath Rizal, Sagar Rai, Sandesh Sharma, Sandeep Rayamajhi (son of Top Bahadur), Narendra KC (private secretary of Khand), Govind Chaudhary, Ram Sharan KC, former assembly member Angtawa Sherpa, Chairman of Haj Committee Shamsher Mia, and Haribhakta Maharjan.

The individuals have been accused of committing four different types of crimes, namely treason, organized crime, fraud, and forgery.

They have been charged with collecting a total of Rs 288.17 million from 115 victims, promising to facilitate their migration to the United States under the pretense of being Bhutanese refugees. The amount collected from each victim ranged from Rs 200,000 to Rs 4.8 million.