Harsher penalty sought for caste-based discrimination

  • The bill proposes a jail term of two years and Rs 20,000 fine for the offender

Kathmandu, August 26

The amendment bill on Caste Based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offence and Punishment) Act registered by the government in the Parliament Secretariat yesterday stipulates tougher penalties for any person who commits an offence involving caste-based discrimination and untouchability.

The bill proposes ‘imprisonment for a term of maximum two years and the fine of up to Rs 20,000’ against the existing ‘maximum one year in jail and a fine of up to Rs 10,000’. If a person is convicted of the offence under this law, the court many order the offender to provide compensation of up to Rs 200,000 to the victim.

Earlier, the compensation amount was ‘from Rs 25,000 to Rs 100,000’. As per the bill, no one shall, on the ground of caste, race, descent, community or occupation, prevent a person from organising public function.

Similarly, the amendment prohibits any person from instigating anyone to commit an act that would amount to caste-based or social discrimination or untouchability or knowingly participate in such an act. According to the bill, no one shall prevent or cause to prevent anyone from producing selling or distributing any goods and services. No one shall sell or distribute any goods and services only to particular caste or race.

The law bars any person from preventing any member of the family from entering the house or evict him/her from the house or village, or compel him/her to leave the house or village on the grounds of caste or race.

If a person prevents anyone of marriageable age from marrying someone from outside caste or denies performing the naming ceremony for the child born from such marriage or compel or cause to compel for divorce, it will also be deemed an offence under the law.

The bill also prohibits dissemination, publication or exhibition of audio visual materials, articles, pictures, figures, cartoons, posters, books or literature in a manner to denote so-called hierarchical supremacy of any caste or race.

The concerned victim or a witness in such cases may lodge a complaint with the nearest police office seeking legal action against the perpetrators. If police refuse to register the complaint and do not initiate action against the suspect, one may file the complaint at the National Dalit Commission or the concerned local level within 15 days of such incident.

“On receipt of the complaint, the commission or the local level shall maintain its record and write to the concerned police office to duly entertain the complaint,” states the bill. If the concerned police office receives the letter from the commission or the local level, it shall initiate necessary proceedings on such complaints.