Kathmandu, April 27
The new Penal Code Bill, 2015, which is under consideration in the Parliament, proposes extraterritorial jurisdiction, which if enacted into law, would enable Nepali law enforcement agencies to investigate crimes committed by a Nepali national against another Nepali in a foreign soil.
Under the existing laws, the Nepali law enforcement agencies have no such power.
As per the bill, extraterritorial jurisdiction will apply in a number of criminal offences when one Nepali citizen commits a crime against another Nepali national in a foreign country.
Extraterritorial jurisdiction will, among other crimes, apply in the case of homicide, abduction, illegal detention, rape and incest.
Moreover, this jurisdiction will also apply in crimes defined under the penal code, if those crimes are committed against aircraft or ships that have been registered in Nepal, in a foreign country.
Lawmaker Krishna Bhakta Pokharel who heads the Penal Code Bill Sub-committee of the Parliamentary Legislation Committee said extraterritorial jurisdiction was one of the key features of the new bill, which would ensure that crimes against Nepali nationals by other Nepali nationals would be investigated even if they were committed in foreign countries.
Pokharel said the new bill had incorporated some of the concepts of the criminal justice system, which had not been part of the country’s criminal law.
The bill also proposes to specify the aggravating and mitigating factors of crime which could increase and reduce a sentence.
The bill proposes to increase sentences for crime committed against the president, chief of the executive and heads of foreign states and for crime committed by violating the trust.
The bill also proposes to increase punishment for those who commit crime by taking advantage of natural calamities such as flood, epidemics and earthquakes.
The bill also proposes that crimes committed by person under 18 or above 75 should be treated as a mitigating factor.
Similarly, the bill also proposes to treat crimes committed sans intentions as a mitigating factor.
If, a person against whom a crime was committed, had provoked the person or threatened the perpetrator before the crime was committed, then this factor should also be treated as a mitigating factor, according to the new Penal Code Bill.
The bill also proposes that if the perpetrator of a crime confessed to his crime and paid compensation to the victim or if he/she has agreed to pay compensation, then he/she would be considered for reduced sentence.
Pokharel said this provision of aggravating and mitigating factor would improve the criminal justice system as it would end discretion of the judges.
Another important provision of the bill is about the interim liability of the perpetrators.
Section 47 of the new Penal Code Bill proposes that the court can order the accused to pay a compensation or relief amount immediately to the victim if he/she needs financial assistance for his/her treatment.
“If a perpetrator, who has hurt a victim and if the perpetrator is wealthy and the victim is poor who is unable afford his/her treatment, then the court may order the perpetrator to pay a compensation or some relief amount,” Pokharel said and added that this was a genuine provision which is not part of any national law till now.
Pokharel said the Legislation Committee was preparing to finalise the bill in next one and half months but since it had many stakeholders to consult, the committee would take more time to finish the given task and would send the bill to the Parliament only after four five months.
A version of this article appears in print on April 28, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.