The Nepal Supreme Court has issued a provisional order in favour of Hotel Yak & Yeti restraining the government from closing down the hotel. On Monday, Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai’s single bench granted a temporary restraining order responding to a petition by the hotel group.
With the Supreme Court’s latest order, the hotel’s bank account, which had been blocked since last Friday, has been unblocked. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, as well as hotel providers, have been summoned by the Supreme Court for a hearing. The hotel management filed a lawsuit alleging that the government was attempting to fraudulently collect royalties. The hotel claimed that it no longer owns the casino.
In 2048 BS (1991 English calendar), the hotel was given permission to run a casino. Despite receiving permission, the hotel decided not to run the casino. The hotel in the petition stated that the Royal Casino located inside the hotel is run by Gilt Investment Pvt. Ltd.
Yak & Yeti go to Supreme Court
Last week, after failing to pay royalties, Nepal’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation cancelled the licences of two casinos. The government had threatened action against casino operators who failed to pay royalties in the first week of February. Despite repeated government requests, when they failed to make the payment the casinos at the Yak & Yeti Hotel in Kathmandu and the Dreamland Hotel in Nepalgunj were ordered to close.
According to the government sources, Yak & Yeti management had ignored repeated calls to clear its dues in the past. The tourism department had sent a letter on October 24, 2021, urging the hotel management to clear its dues within 35 days. Another letter was sent on January 27, in which the hotel was given 15 days to clear the dues. After failing to get any response, the department had then published a public notice on Gorkhapatra national daily on February 2, urging the hotel management to clear the dues within seven days.
The Nepal government has so far collected Rs 810 million in royalties from various casinos operational in Nepal, according to a report in the Himalayan Times. “Now casinos have been in rush to pay royalties. So far, Rs 810 million in royalties has been collected. Some other casinos have gone through documentation to clear dues,” said Khem Raj Joshi, an officer at the Department of Tourism. According to the department, so far, 17 casinos including Golden Finger Gaming Zone Pvt. have paid royalties. Now, arrears amounting to over Rs 1.11 billion remain unpaid in royalties, the government sources were quoted by the Himalayan Times.