KATHMANDU, Sept 25: The upper house of parliament has amended the Muluki codes, provisioning an expert committee that will establish medical negligence prior to the arrest of any doctor on a complaint of negligence or malicious intent.
The National Assembly has removed some provisions in the codes following an assurance given by the government in response to doctors’ protests over the newly enacted law. The existing provisions could land a doctor in jail immediately after a complaint of medical negligence is filed. This had sparked outrage from the medical fraternity.
The amendment endorsed by the National Assembly was forwarded to the lower house on Sunday. Parliamentary regulations allow the lower house to amend any provisions endorsed by the upper house, if it deems fit.
A permanent committee comprising a doctor recommended by Nepal Medical Council as coordinator and a senior official from government health services, a joint attorney general, a senior police official and an individual active in health-related consumer rights as members has been provisioned to probe any complaints of medical negligence and malicious treatment. Chairperson of Nepal Medical Association Mukti Ram Shrestha said that though they are yet to go through the amendment minutely, they have taken the decision of parliament as positive.
The amendment has mentioned that cases can be filed in court against doctors only after the recommendation of the committee. The revision also states that serious negligence or carelessness will be punishable rather than just lack of due caution. However, the sentence has not been minimized in the case of the death of a patient.
Meanwhile, the amendment has provisioned life imprisonment for the rape of a minor, an elderly woman or a disabled or completely disabled person. Life imprisonment under the new law is 25 years.
The Criminal Code has provisioned life imprisonment only for six crimes, including killing after torture, murder after rape, genocide, murder after kidnapping, killing after plane hijacking or through setting off of an explosion, and killing through poison in mass-produced food and drink items.
Section 219 of the Criminal Code requires a maximum 16 years jail for the rape of a child below 10 and additional five years if the child is also disabled. The section provisions a minimum 7 years to a maximum 21 years in rape cases other than marital rape. But the law doesn’t mention any additional sentence for the rape of an elderly woman.