Caste-based discrimination is still prevalent in Nepal despite the criminalisation of the evil practice.

According to the annual report (2020-21) published by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Nepal Police registered 39 cases of caste-based discrimination in fiscal 2020-21 compared to 29 in the previous fiscal.

Article 24 of the constitution states that no person shall be subject to any form of discrimination or untouchability on grounds of his/her origin, caste, tribe, community, occupation or physical condition. Any act of untouchability and discrimination shall be punishable by law, and the victims shall have the right to obtain compensation for the damage caused to him/ her.

The country was declared free from caste-based discrimination on 4 June 2006. However, this declaration is limited to paper only as the social evil is still pervasive in a large section of society.

Society continues to be divided over the so-called high and low castes. Filing complaints against incidents of castebased discrimination with the police and local level authority is not easy. The MoHA said Nepal Police was instructed to cooperate with victims of castebased discrimination and file case and initiate legal action against the guilty.

Similarly, Dalits find it difficult to find a rented room or flat. According to the MoHA, a victim of caste-based discrimination or a witness in such a case may lodge a complaint at the nearest police office seeking legal action against perpetrators. If police refuse to register the complaint and do not initiate action against the suspect, one may file complaint at the National Dalit Commission or the concerned local level within 15 days of the incident.

If convicted, the perpetrator shall be liable to imprisonment of maximum two years and fine of up to Rs 20,000 as per the law. The court may order the offender to provide compensation of up to Rs 200,000 to the victim.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 28, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.