New law envisages separate court for children

Kathmandu, December 8

The Children Act, which recently came into force, has a provision of Children Court to conduct proceeding, hearing and adjudication of offences committed by children.

The act says the government may form Children Court on the recommendation of Judicial Council by publishing a notification in the Nepal Gazette, which also mentions its provincial jurisdiction.

“Children bench shall be formed in each district court to conduct proceeding, hearing and adjudication of offences committed by children until the formation of the Children Court,” the law states. If a child under the age of 10 years is found to have committed an offence, no punishment shall be handed down to him/her. Similarly, a child aged between 10 and 14 years shall be released by convincing him/her not to repeat such act in future.

“In the case of involvement in an offence liable to jail sentence, the concerned child aged between 10 and 14 years shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding six months or kept in child correction centre for at least one year,” it states.

In the case of a child aged between 14 and 18 years, he/she shall be liable to one-third of the punishment.

An investigation authority may, as necessary, detain a child according to the degree of offence, while providing counselling through a psychologist. “Such child may be kept in a surveillance room for a period not exceeding 21 days by obtaining approval of Children Court. The court may not remand him/her for a period exceeding five days at a time,” the act stipulates.

A separate room shall be managed in the concerned district police office until a special surveillance room is established by the government. “If any family member of the child wishes to stay with him/her for his/her necessary support, the investigation authority may grant permission for the same by specifying terms and conditions,” the law states.

The government may form a separate unit for investigation of a child allegedly involved in criminal offence.

An employee trained in child justice and working in district police office may be assigned to carry out investigation until the formation of separate unit.

The law requires the Children Court to make final adjudication of the case within a period not exceeding 120 days. Any child committing a criminal offence shall not be deemed ineligible for holding any government position or enjoying state facilities in future. The law prohibits the investigation authority from handcuffing the child.