Rights bodies hail court verdict

KATHMANDU: Human Rights organisations in the country today welcomed a judgment of the Baitadi District Court over a caste-based discrimination case. The organisations have termed the decision a significant step in the fight against caste-based discrimination.

Issuing a joint press release, National Dalit Commission (NDC), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR-Nepal) hailed the decision on a case in which the main

defendant had physically assaulted father

of a groom during a wedding ceremony for carrying out “rituals meant for high-caste communities

According to the decision, the defendant has been slapped with one-year jail term and a fine of Rs 5,000. The verdict followed the one issued in January 2009 by the same Court in a similar case.

The verdicts are in accordance with article 14 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, which states that acts of racial discrimination and untouchability “shall be liable to punishment and the victim shall be liable to compensation “.

In the earlier case in October 2007, it all happened that a dozen of Dalits were physically assaulted and some of their belongings were looted after they refused to follow discriminatory rituals at Udayadev temple in the district during Dashain and Tihar. In this case, the main perpetrator was slapped with two year jail term and a fine of Rs 25,000.

The Kanchanpur Appellate Court had also upheld the decision on August 23 last year.

The press release, however, said that the three organisations were deeply concerned at the fact that the culprit in the earlier case was nominated for a public position.

The Building and Residence Section of the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works to the Town Development Committee in Mahendranagar, Kanchanpur had nominated the culprit for the post on September 22 last year.

The rights bodies have also urged authorities to abide by the verdict, enforce both sentences immediately and undertake specific measures to promote social awareness on the issue of caste-based discrimination.