Dowry contributes significant share in earnings of ministers

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Dec 16, 2016-A number of ministers in incumbent cabinet have been found to have taken dowries, flouting the Social Practice (Reform) Act 1976. 

Out of 31 ministers who publicised their property details on Wednesday, eight ministers have directly or indirectly mentioned that they received dowries, mainly gold and silver. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Bimalendra Nidhi, who helms the ministry responsible for implementing the anti-dowry law, tops the list of dowry-taking ministers.

His property details mention possession of 60 tolas of gold and 150 tolas of silver which were received as dowry, gift and pewa (exclusive property of wife).  

The Act bans receiving or giving property as dowry in cash or kind exceeding Rs 10,000.  

Any one violating the law is liable to a prison sentence of 15 days and/or a fine up to Rs 10,000, followed by the confiscation of dowry. 

Meera Dhungana, president of Forum for Women, Law and Development (FWLD), an NGO working for women advocacy and equity, said it was unfortunate that those who lead the executive were ahead in flouting the law.

Similarly, Minister for Foreign Affairs Prakash Sharan Mahat has mentioned in his property details that he possesses 30 tolas of gold, 1,200 tolas of silver and diamond, among other assets. The valuable metals and stones that he has in his possession were either gifted to him by his in-laws and others during his wedding or were bought with his own earning. 

Though Minister Mahat has not used the word “dowry” while listing sources of his properties, items received during marriage count as dowry. 

Minister for Population and Environment Jaya Dev Joshi has 200 gram of gold and 500 gram of silver which was partially earned through dowry. Similarly, 50 tolas of gold, 1.5 kg of silver and three sets of diamond possessed by Irrigation Minister Deepak Giri were also received as dowry or bought by his own earning. 

Health Minister Gagan Thapa also has mentioned wife’s pewa, dowry, inheritance from parents and personal earning as the sources of 15 tolas of gold and 40 tolas of silver he possesses. 

Thapa, however, denied taking dowry. 

“That was the gift given by my in-laws to my wife. I didn’t find other word so I mentioned it as a dowry,” he said. 

Education Minister Dhani Ram Poudel, Minister for Law and Justice Ajay Shanker Nayak and State Minister for Local Development and Federal Affairs Shree Prasad Jabegu also have possession of significant amounts of gold and silver with dowry being one of the sources. 

Asked why he received dowry, Jabegu said it was a custom in Limbu community.  “Had I known it was illegal when I married in 1992, I wouldn’t have taken it,” he said. 

Published: 16-12-2016 08:13

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