Ananta Raj Luitel

Kathmandu, May 4:

Though the number of road accidents in the country is on the rise, the prosecutors have been successful in punishing only 20 per cent of the culprits. According to last year’s annual report of the Attorney General’s Office, 179 murder cases were filed out of which only 18 cases were finalised. The courts gave verdict in favour of the victims. Prosecutors failed to win 54 cases from the 103 decided ones while 54 cases are still pending. Only 33 cases were “partially successful.”

In the same year, the prosecutors filed 38 attempt to murder cases whereas only one prosecutor managed to win the case. Altogether 15 cases failed and 20 are still pending in the courts. Two cases were “partially successful” out of the 18 decided cases. The AG’s report shows that about 200 murder cases and 300 attempt to murder cases used to be filed every year.

As there is a provision for life imprisonment and forfeiting the driver’s property on murder charge as per Clause 161(1) of the Vehicle and Transportation Management Act 1992, hardly any driver has been given maximum punishment. Prosecutors usually file cases against the drivers for a maximum sentence of up to 10 years. However, the courts due to lack of evidence give them a minimum sentence of one year as per Clause 161(3) which says that one can be punished under the provision if he is involved in killing a commuter without intention.

“This scenario is worse,” criminal law expert Dr Rajitbhakta Pradhanang told The Himalayan Times. According to him, lack of proper investigation from police is the main reason for failure of road accident cases. “Another reason is that the transport entrepreneurs are able to pressurise the prosecutors.” “Due to the misconception of the Act, the drivers resort to killing their injured victim,” Dr Pradhanang said, adding, “There is an urgent need to amend the Act. The driver should face a murder charge if he kills the victim by reversing the vehicle.” As per Clause 163, the driver should provide Rs 10,000 for the last rites and Rs 7,500 as compensation if the victim is not insured.

Another lawyer Kamal Narayan Das raised doubts over the investigation process. “If the prosecutors file the case only after completing investigations then there is no possibility of failure but we have seen the prosecutors doing just the opposite.” “We are happy in achieving partial success in most of the cases,” said Narendra Prasad Pathak, Deputy Attorney General. He also called for amending the 1992 Act which is not clear on providing compensation and insurance.