Bill moots alternative punishment to prison

Kathmandu, March 11

A bill to determine and award punishment for criminal offences has proposed that any offender, who has been sentenced to up to six months in prison, may be ordered to perform community service instead of serving the jail sentence.

However, the concerned court will take into account the nature and gravity of the offence, his/her age, conduct, circumstance of the offence and modus operandi of the crime before issuing such an order.

The bill is currently under consideration in the Parliament.

“It requires the court to take the consent of the offender before ordering him/her to perform community service,” it reads.

According to the bill, community service is unpaid work by an offender for a civic or non-profit organisation, which includes hospital, old age homes, orphanage, public or community schools, institutions working for environment protection and sports training.

While ordering the offender to perform community service, the court will have to fix the hours he/she should work on a daily basis, while prescribing its terms and conditions.

“If the offender performs community service for the period fixed by the court under the prescribed terms and conditions, he/she will be deemed to have done his time in jail. Probation or parole officer designated by the Probation or Parole Board will monitor and supervise his/her service during the period,” proposes the bill.

In case of failure to perform community service as ordered by the court, the concerned offender will be sent back to prison.

Anyone convicted of murder, rape, human trafficking, possession of arms and ammunition, corruption, robbery, wildlife crime, drug smuggling, theft of ancient monument, among others, will be eligible to perform community service.

“The concerned organisation where the offender performs community service will not be obliged to pay him/her for the community service he/she had done during the period. He/she is neither a volunteer nor a community activist but a person convicted of crime and ordered by the court to perform community service,” reads the bill.