CIAA FOUND NO DOCUMENTS IN JOSHI'S CORRUPTION CASE Supreme Court Verdict On July 28

After several hearings in 11 years, the Supreme Court will decide on Govindaraj Joshi's corruption case, in which the Commission of Inquiry on Abuse of Authority (CIAA) did not find any documents, on July 28.

June 4, 2024, 11:01 a.m.

Law firmly believe that let 100 guilty go free but one innocent should not be punished. The main point of the answer is that in the Indian judiciary, it is a fundamental principle that the benefit of doubt should always be given to the accused.

In the last 73 years of democracy, the court has a history of protecting the innocent. The judges like Hari Prasad Pradhan, Ratna Bahadur Bista and Nayan Bahadur Khatri, who worked in a very difficult situation, always gave the verdict to protect the innocent.

Chief Justice Khatri's judgment on Yagya Murti Banjade's habeas corpus is still cited as a landmark case in Nepal. Although it was the Panchayat period, he ordered the release of Banjade, who had been arrested without due process. Khatri also gave a verdict to release BP Koirala.

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He firmly believed that it was better for 100 guilty to escape punishment than for one innocent person to be wrongly convicted. This principle is based on the idea that it is the duty of the judge not only to ensure that no innocent person is punished, but also to prevent the guilty from escaping justice.

This principle is crucial to upholding the principles of justice and fairness. It recognizes the fallibility of human judgment and the potential for error in the criminal justice process. By prioritizing the protection of the innocent, even if it means that some guilty persons may escape punishment, the system seeks to minimize the risk of wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice.

All three judges have held that the principle of giving the benefit of the doubt to the accused, while ensuring that the guilty do not go unpunished, is a cornerstone of India's criminal justice system. It reflects a commitment to fairness, justice and the protection of individual rights.

The former Chief Justice, late Khatri, had passed many landmark decisions protecting individual rights and protecting the innocent during his tenure as Chief Justice.

Joshi's case

Given such a legal principle, it may look strange to many that the CIAA has filed a case without producing any documents against an innocent person who has been facing severe consequences in a corruption case for the last 11 years.

Backed by populist media trial and political vendetta, many innocent people have been put in jail in Nepal where an anti-corruption body filed a case in a court without producing adequate documents.

However, after 11 years, the Supreme Court division bench of two junior judges hearing the case of former Nepali Congress leader Govindaraj Joshi, who was accused of corruption without any documents, announced to announce its decision on July 28.

The bench of Justices Binod Sharma and Balkrishna Dhakal fixed June 03 as the date for the verdict in the case, which has remained unsolved after 51 hearings in 11 years.

According to Govinda Prasad Ghimire, information officer of the Supreme Court, both sides have been asked to submit their arguments by July 5.

"The CIAA has not submitted its decision to appoint its own investigating officer. So, the case is null and void from the very beginning," senior advocate Badri Bahadur Karki argued before the division bench of the Supreme Court on the last day.

"The CIAA formed a nine-member committee of inquiry to investigate its own decision and files and concluded. They found that there was never any file. It is a very sad commentary that how CIAA conducts criminal investigation and files chargesheet against many government officials and politicians. How strange our hearing was," argued senior advocate Karki.

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He said that this kind of mockery is the result of lack of legal knowledge in CIAA. He said that no debate is ever held on the actual qualifications of CIAA chiefs and other commissioners to be qualified as chief prosecutor and the prosecutor does not need to be a qualified lawyer or a person with legal qualification. Most of the chiefs and commissioners of the CIAA come from the civil service and have no legal background.

A special court tried Joshi in 2069. Joshi was found guilty by the special court after the source of the property worth 20.16 million could not be confirmed. He appealed the Special Court's decision to the Supreme Court in 2070.

In 2058, the Property Investigation Commission, chaired by former judge Bhairav Prasad Lamsal, recommended that the government investigate many high-ranking politicians. The government sent the report to the CIAA for further investigation.

As the then CIAA chief was looking for a politician, Joshi, a political heavyweight, was victimized in the conspiracy and the case was filed without any document.

Initially, the special court acquitted Joshi on the ground that the statute of limitations had expired. However, the CIAA filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court seeking an explanation of the statute of limitations and sought a review of the verdict on the ground that there were serious deviations in the verdict. Joshi was later found guilty in a case where there was no document.

Even after this case reached the Supreme Court, it appears to have been on the "do not watch" list several times. The case was stalled for a long time after the department failed to produce the one document sought by the Supreme Court.

In 2071, the joint bench of Justices Gopal Prasad Parajuli and Deepakraj Joshi asked for the CIAA's decision to investigate Joshi. But the authority did not provide this decision saying that it was not found.

After the authority did not produce the decision file for a long time, in 2076, the bench of Justice Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Sapna Pradhan Malla ordered to produce it within 15 days.

Subsequently, the CIAA formed a committee headed by the then Joint Secretary Kali Prasad Parajuli and searched for the documents. But on June 4, 2076, the Board sent a letter to the Authority stating that it had not been found and that there was no basis for finding it.

Joint Secretary Premraj Karki was given the document appointing the inquiry officer to investigate Joshi. Even then the case was prolonged.

After 11 years, the court has decided to announce the verdict in a case for which there were no documents. The question is how the court is going to take strict action against the persons who have kept an innocent person in trouble for such a long time and prevent future misuse of laws and power.

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