SC tells govt to compensate wrongly convicted

Kathmandu, January 21

The Supreme Court today issued a directive to the government telling it to enact a compensation law in order to provide compensation to people who are wrongly indicted and who spend years in jail as a result of wrong investigation.

Constitutional bench of Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha, Sushila Karki, Baidya Nath Upadhyay, Gopal Parajuli and Om Prakash Mishra issued the order in response to a writ petition filed by advocates Amrit Prasad Shrestha and Shoshit Akela Baniya.

The petitioners argued in their petition that there was provision in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to compensate the people who are wrongly indicted and put in custody during trail and since Nepal is a party to this international instrument, the country should enact a new law to compensate the victims.

Shrestha told THT that in some cases people may spend more than 10 years in jail before being acquitted by the Supreme Court but cannot claim compensation under the existing provisions.

“People who are falsely indicted and who spend years in jail in the course of trial suffer emotional and material loss. Families of such persons also suffer huge losses. So compensating such persons becomes a duty of the state,” Shrestha argued.

Once people are indicted in criminal cases, and put in jails during trial, he argued, the indicted person and their families suffer a lot in terms of their prestige and reputation and even if they are acquitted by the higher courts, they cannot live a dignified life as before.

“Nepali national Govind Mainali, who spent almost 15 years in Japanese jail, before he was acquitted by the apex court, got a huge amount in compensation from the Japanese government but in our case, such a law does not exist till now,” Shrestha said, adding that the new order of the Supreme Court was a historic judgment, which would discourage people from filing wrong FIR.

He said the new court’s ruling would also discourage government investigators from not carrying out thorough investigation in criminal cases.

He said providing compensation to people who are wrongly indicted was accepted as an important principle in the US, Australia, Japan and New Zealand.

The petitioner also cited a British case wherein a soldier who was acquitted after spending 25 years in jail was awarded a compensation of 14,000 pound for every year that he spent in jail.

The apex court, however, rejected the petitioners’ argument to declare Sections 14, 15 and 18 of the Government Case Act, 1992 ultra vires.