New laws add extra burden on OAG, police

Kathmandu, November 11

The Office of the Attorney General has said it will have to doubly increase  its capacity to do its job when the new Criminal Code Act and Criminal Procedure Act come into force on August 17, next year.

Spokesperson for the OAG Sanjiv Raj Regmi said the newly enacted Criminal Code Act and Criminal Procedure Act would significantly increase the work burden on government attorneys as they would be required to appear before courts at least five times in one criminal case. “This means we need to double our capacity,” he added.

There are 405 posts of government attorneys out of which 350 posts have been filled.  “We will probably need another 350 government attorneys to do our job,” he added.

Under existing laws, government attorneys can file memorandums of appeal within 120 days from the day courts deliver their verdicts, but under the new laws, government attorneys will only have 60 days to file memorandums of appeal against lower courts’ verdicts. “All this will add our burden,” Regmi added.

He said the new laws provisioned that the police would have to seek the court’s prior permission to arrest somebody unless the police had reason to believe that the accused could escape or destroy evidences.

Regmi said as per new laws, government attorneys, and not the police, would have to take the accused to court seeking custody of the accused.

Regmi said the objective of this provision was to ensure that both parties put forth their arguments from the beginning before somebody is put in custody and his/her liberty is curtailed.

Until today, the courts impose punishment on the convict the same day when they hand down conviction verdicts,  but under the new law, the court will have to hold a separate hearing to decide on the quantum of punishment for the convicts,” Regmi said.

Regmi said the new laws provisioned that charge sheet could be revised or amended in case new evidences were collected.

The new criminal laws give the government attorneys the power not to file charge sheets in case where the accused can face jail sentence of up to three months and Rs 1,000 fine. “In this case, the victim has the right to file a case,” he added.

Professor Rajit Bhakta Pradhananga, who has written books on criminal law,  said the new Penal Code Act and Criminal Procedure Act would increase the work burden on both police and the government attorneys as the new laws had incorporated some new crimes and also redefined crimes.

“Till now the police rely mainly on the statement of the accused to investigate a crime. These new laws mandate them to collect scientific evidence in the course of investigation,” he added. He said managing resources would be a big challenge for government attorneys and the police to investigate crimes under new laws. “If police offices and offices of government attorneys are not equipped with resources, then they cannot do the job that the new laws mandate them to,” Pradhananga added.