The Supreme Court on Tuesday slapped one and half year jail term and Rs. 8.4 million fine to Minister for Information and Communication Jaya Prakash Gupta for corruption. The court also ordered confiscation of same amount of property.
Gupta is the first sitting minister to get convicted of corruption in the history. His Constituent Assembly membership and the ministerial post both have been automatically scrapped after his conviction in the corruption case.
A joint bench of SC justices Tarkaraj Bhatta and Sushila Karki issued the verdict in the corruption charges against Gupta, who is also chairman of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Republican).
The apex court had on January 9 postponed the final verdict citing “time constraints” for preparing the full text of the verdict.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed a writ petition at the apex court, seeking review over the Special Court's verdict in 2007 that gave Minister Gupta clean chit over corruption charge.
The anti-graft body had dragged him to the court in 2002, accusing him of irregularities worth Rs 20.1 million during his multiple ministerial stints. CIAA investigation found that that he had Rs 22,000 in his bank accounts before holding public office whereas the amount grew to Rs 9.02 million by 2007.
Gupta recently courted controversy due to his public statement that Madhes could decide to cuts its links with the state if the agendas of Madhesis are ignored.
Gupta, a key player in the ruling Madhesi Front, had held agriculture and communication portfolios in different governments. He was press advisor of the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala before his ministerial stints.
He had joined Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) after quitting the Nepali Congress just before the Constituent Assembly election. He then went on to form his own party in May last year with the support of 13 lawmakers of the MJF. Gupta’s party, MJF (Republican) is part of the current Maoist-led government.
Gupta, who arrived at the court on a private car, surrendered before the court following his conviction in corruption.
Gupta sent to jail
Meanwhile, Gupta has been sent to Dillibazaar prison after his conviction in the corruption case. He was arrested from court premises.
"The verdict has come as a punishment to the Madhes movement," Gupta reacted before getting inside the police van.
"I will not be able to appear before you [media] as a political leader for some time," he added, "But one-and-half year does not mean anything for a political movement." nepalnews.com