SC orders govt to make law against untouchability

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 21:

The Supreme Court today issued a directive to the government to promulgate an Act and to do the needful to wipe out the practice of untouchability and other caste discrimination in the country. Untouchability and caste discrimination had been declared illegal in the Civil Code promulgated in 1963 but today’s apex court order can be considered to be of historic importance in the drive against the inhumane practise. The SC issued today’s verdict in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a group of lawyers including Ratna Bahadur Bagchand representing the Lawyers’ National Campaign Against Untouchability. A full bench of justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Khil Raj Regmi and Bal Ram KC issued the directive to the government bodies including the Cabinet Secretariat, Ministries of Home and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to act in this regard.

“Promulgate necessary Act and do the needful to meet the spirit of Article 11 (4) of the 1990 Constitution and the goal of the International Covenant on Elimination of Rational Discrimination (ICERD) to which Nepal became a party in 1971,” the bench ordered.

The bench also told the authorities to analyse the steps taken towards eliminating racial discrimination.

The apex court, however, said the Section 10 (1) Adalko Mahal Chapter of Civil Code 1963, which prohibits the racial discrimination and untouchabilty, is not against the Constitution.

The petitioners had challenged the constitutionality

of the Section claiming the provision which is against effective elimination of racial disc

rimination because it provides discretionary power to punish against any accused.

The Section says anyone accused for practising racial discrimination or practising

untouchability may get up to one year jail-term and Rs 3,000 as fine or both.

The petitioners had also accused the government of not being serious to eliminate the discrimination among the people.

They, citing several district court verdicts, claimed that the perpetrators have been facing less punishment for the inhuman crime.