New laws with major changes to come into effect from Aug 17

Published On: August 9, 2018 11:05 AM NPT By: Ananta Raj Luitel

KATHMANDU, Aug 9: The country is going to adopt new legal codes – Muluki Civil Code, 2017 and Muluki Criminal Code, 2017 – from August 17, replacing the century-old civil code which is popularly known as Muluki Ain. The  legal fraternity is eagerly looking to the enforcement of the new laws.

“We are awaiting the enforcement of the codes that may take our society into a new phase in terms of legal practices,” senior advocate Balkrishna Neupane told Republica. According to him, the codes have introduced new provisions and their implementation may help maintain the rule of law in society.

Section 40 (2) of the punishment chapter in the Criminal Code has abolished property seizure for any criminal offense even if such a provision is still prevalent in any other existing law. 

The code has proposed a 25-year life sentence for cruel murder, torture, hijacking aeroplane, killing with poisoning of food or drink, genocide and rape cases. 

Half of the quantum of punishment shall be added for those offenders committing multiple crimes at once or in different times while double the quantum of punishment may be awarded to repeat offenders, as per Section 44.

No punishment shall be given to any child up to the age of 10 years for juvenile delinquency and  there many be a six months jail sentence or stay in a reform home for up to one year for a child up to the age of 14 years. Half of the punishment shall be given for a child up to the age of 16 for committing a crime and two thirds of the punishment shall be awarded to any child up to 18 years of age.

Interestingly, the code is softer on offenders who help in investigations. According to Section 47, up to 50 percent jail sentence shall be discounted for those offenders  helping in investigations, prosecution and collecting of evidence and arresting the principal offender or co-accused or the criminal gang.

Section 48 has introduced interim relief to victims of any crime for health checkup or for relief during the process of court trial  if the court considers  providing such relief. 

Life sentence shall be given for state offenses. Armed struggle or any other movement against the political regime and threat to the sovereignty and integrity of the country or against the interest of the nation are taken as offenses against the state.  

For the first time in the legal history of Nepal, the code has introduced a provision against genocide, which would attract a 25-year life sentence. Threatening the President and the Parliament is tantamount to treason and up to 25 years life sentence shall be given for such an  offence.

Another new provision introduced in the Criminal Code is about obstructing public office holders from doing their duty, and disturbance of public transportation has also been taken as a crime for which up to 3 years in jail has been proposed. Disturbance in the supply of electricity and telecommunication has also been taken as a criminal offense liable for a 3-year jail sentence. Creating baseless rumors has been recognized as a criminal offense with up to one year jail sentence.

Violation of the orders of public office holders has been recognized as a crime and there is a provision for awarding up to one year jail sentence for such an offense.  Under this category summons orders and other undertakings of a court of law must be respected by everybody. 

If any public office holder speaks against what he or she has pledged in his or her oath it would  be a crime and may attract a fine of up to Rs 20,000.  

Providing false information or evidence has been recognized as a crime deserving up to five years jail term. Prosecuting anyone with falsified charges will also be a crime and would bring a jail sentence of six months.

Transmitting diseases such as HIV or Hepatitis knowingly or any other diseases would be an offense against public health and morality and up to ten years jail sentence for the offender has been proposed.

Contamination of foods has also been taken as an offense. Adversely affecting environment by creating pollution or radiation or producing garbage may bring down up to one year jail sentence. Similarly, if anyone creates obstruction in roads, rivers or public places, up to Rs 25,000 fine can be imposed.  Eve-teasing of women and children in public places may bring a jail sentence of up to one year for the offenders. 

Involvement in sex in public places or operating brothels have also been criminalized with a sentence of up to three years. 

Polygamy has also been strictly prohibited  and up to five years jail sentence shall be awarded to those who get involved in such offences willingly. 

Interestingly, the code has proposed up to five years jail term for those trying to commit suicide or provoking others to commit suicide.  Slaughtering cows or oxen has also been criminalized with a sentence of up to six months in  jail while cruel treatment of birds may incur up to three months jail sentence.

The Muluki Civil Code has also introduced a number of new provisions. Section 36 of the Individual Chapter says that every individual has the right to medical tests or to change one’s sex. Every individual has the right to gift his or her body for any particular use after death. 

With or without formal ceremony, any individual can get married with any woman. If a child is born without marriage after sexual intercourse between a man and woman, such a couple would be recognized as husband and wife. Every family member shall have equal right to parental property. 

Advocate Dinesh Sharma said, “We may be confused over the implementation of the new codes for some time but this might not continue for long .”

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