Govt preparing to amend civil, criminal codes

Kathmandu, August 2

Two new laws, Muluki Criminal Code and Muluki Civil Code, which will come into force on August 17,  will be amended to  annul  marriages solemnised  between persons below the age of 20 years.

The government, which has recently endorsed a draft bill prepared to amend these two laws, will register the amendment bill in the Parliament soon, seeking to bring uniformity in the two laws and end some ambiguities.

According to Spokesperson for the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ramesh Dhakal the new bill also states that if a marriage is solemnised between persons below the age of 20 years, then such a marriage will be considered child marriage and automatically be annulled.

“The existing provisions state that if a marriage is solemnised between a boy and girl below 20 years of age, such marriage will be void only if the affected parties so desire,” Dhakal added.

The amendment bill also proposes to end ambiguity in the provisions relating to awarding of punishment in multiple crimes committed by same person(s) at one time.

According to Spokesperson Dhakal, the amendment bill proposes that when a person commits multiple crimes at one time, s/he would face punishment in the crime that carries the maximum punishment among the crimes committed plus    half sentence awarded for the crime that is second in the degree of severity.

The guilty, however, will not face any punishment for the third crime.

Similarly the amendment bill seeks to void bigamy ab inito. Under the existing law, there is no provision for annulment of bigamy which the new amendment bill seeks to change, Dhakal said.

The new amendment bill also states that in cases where prisoners can get waiver of sentence, they can apply for waivers if they serve at least 50 per cent of their jail sentences.

“The government has proposed this provision keeping in mind the sorry state of prisons and lack of space in jail cells,” he added.

The amendment bill also seeks to bring uniformity in civil and penal codes in the provisions relating to the process of appointment of attorneys, extension of court dates and the counting of deadline for submission of memorandum of appeals.

Dhakal said the amendment to the two laws would make the implementation of the law easy as it would bring uniformity in the provisions of the two laws and also remove ambiguities. “The amendment will, however, not add any substantial provisions,” he added.

Spokesperson for the Office of the Attorney General Sanjeeb Raj Regmi said his office also helped the law ministry prepare the draft of the amendment bill after consulting Nepal Police, Nepal Bar Association and the courts.

“We had proposed minor changes in the Muluki Criminal Code and Muluki Civil Code with the objective of fixing referral clauses and maintaining correlations between the provisions,” he added.