February 21, 2017 08:37 AM NPT
By: Ashok Dahal
KATHMANDU, Feb 21: If a draft of the Criminal Code revised by a parliamentary panel is endorsed by the full House, a polygamous man or a polyandrous woman could get a jail term of up to five years and a fine of Rs 50,000.
Removing the existing six grounds for a man to get married for a second time, the revised bill has proposed criminalizing polygamy or polyandry except in the case when one of the couple is already separated and has received his or her share of the ancestral property.
Section 175 of the bill has also proposed punishment for a woman if she is found to have married a man knowing that he is already married.
Earlier, in the original draft of the bill, the government had proposed allowing a spouse for a second marriage if his/her couple is suffering from an incurable sexual disease. But the parliament’s legislative committee removed this provision. The committee has on its part endorsed the bill and is all set to forward it to the full House for final approval.
The Criminal Code bill is one of the five bills, which will replace the 160-year-old Civil Code (Muluki Ain), enacted by the then Rana Prime Minister Jung Bahadur Rana. The civil code had provided various excuses for a husband to get married for a second time such as when his wife is suffering from incurable sexual diseases, is mad, is incapable of giving birth or is unable to walk or is blind.
“The existing act has accepted polygamy on various grounds but the revised draft has barred polygamy and polyandry under any pretext,” said lawmaker Krishna Bhakta Pokharel, the coordinator of the sub-committee under the Legislative Committee tasked to revise the bill. He says once the bill is endorsed, any spouse can’t get married for a second time unless he or she is already divorced.
The bill has also proposed significant changes to other existing laws including provisions related to rape, life time sentence, cyber crimes and treason.
Adding a new clause to the bill, the parliamentary committee has proposed penalty for taking pictures of any individual without prior consent and distorting and tampering those pictures. This section was added to the bill following concerns of lawmakers over increasing trend of distorting pictures of leaders in the social media.
Likewise, making significant changes in the legal definition of the crime of rape, the bill has defined ‘any act of penetration into the vagina, anus or mouth of a woman with a part of a man’s body or any other object or sex toys without conscious consent of the woman as rape.’ The existing law defines rape only as penetration of male organ into the vagina of a woman without conscious consent of the woman.
Likewise the bill has criminalized the act of match fixing in any sports.