ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: Overturning its own six-year-old verdict, the Special Court today convicted former minister Govinda Raj Joshi, a Nepali Congress leader, of corruption and slapped an 18-month jail sentence, a fine of Rs 21.6 million and confiscation of property equal to the fine on him.
Stating that Joshi until 1994 did not have sufficient sources of income to justify the wealth worth Rs 21.6 million he had amassed, a three-member bench of Judges Gauri Bahadur Karki, Om Prakash Mishra and Kedar Prasad Chalise convicted the seven-time minister of graft. The court slapped one-year jail term on Joshi for amassing property through illegal means as per Section 20 of Corruption Prevention Act, 2002, and additional six months in prison for misusing his power as minister as per Section 24 of the same Act. The bench added that Joshi had tried to hide his ‘illegitimate wealth’ by keeping it in the names of his relatives — mother-in-law Nir Kumari Pant, brother-in-law Basudev Panta and wife Sabita — who, according to the court, had failed to show their legitimate source of income.
On 12 January 2004, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had moved the Special Court charging Joshi with corruption of Rs 39.4 million during his ministerial stints from 1991-2001.
The CIAA had prosecuted Joshi based on a report prepared by the Judicial Inquiry Commission on Property headed by former justice Bhairav Prasad Lamsal.
But a three-member bench of judges Bhoopdhoj Adhikary, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana had acquitted Joshi in 2006 citing Section 29 of the Corruption Prevention Act, 1991, which prohibits prosecution of anyone after one year of his/her retirement from the public post.
The constitutional anti-graft body then had filed an appeal at the Supreme Court claiming that the Special Court order to acquit Joshi was wrong ‘because statute of limitation cannot be applied on a corruption case’.
On January 8, the apex court had directed the Special Court to evaluate its previous judgment to acquit Joshi.
The man, his claims and court refusal
KATHMANDU: Govinda Raj Joshi from Tanahun was catapulted into political spotlight following the reinstatement of democracy in 1990. A former teacher, Joshi later was involved in law profession for some time before he started dabbling in politics with the Nepali Congress. Democracy in 1990 was the biggest blessing for Joshi who continued to win in the elections in following years from his constituency and in 1991 for the first time became a minister. Thereafter, he never looked back. In the next 10 years he held ministerial posts seven times and became home minister thrice. But by this time, he had started facing corruption charges. Despite his claims that he had not earned his property illegally, the long arm of the law finally tapped the seven-time minister on the shoulder. THT’s repeated attempts to contact him went in vain, but his lawyers told this daily that Joshi would file an appeal at the Supreme Court. Some of Joshi’s claims:
• That he had earned Rs 3 million by selling his books Mera Anubhutiharu and Sabdachitra Ma Nepal. Court said Joshi’s claim was unconvincing and that he had earned only Rs 2 lakh from books
• That he had earned Rs 3.5 million while working as teacher and lawyer. Court said not convincing
• That his daughter and son-in-law had sent him Rs 5.5 million. Court said married daughters cannot give such a huge amount to their parents
• That his son had sent Rs 5.3 million from the US. Court said there must be some verification whether the amount was made through legitimate source of income
• That he had made Rs 2.8 million through agricultural means. Court said unconvincing
• That he had saved Rs 4.9 million from foreign visits. Court rejected