Draft of bill proposes three years jail sentence for violation of right to privacy

Kathmandu, July 14

Nepal Law Commission has prepared a preliminary draft of a bill related to protection of individuals’ privacy, proposing jail sentence up to three years or fine up to Rs 30,000 or both for violating individual’s right to privacy.

The draft will be finalised in two days and be sent to the line ministry, said NLC Vice-chair Bhesh Raj Sharma.

The bill is related to implementation of fundamental rights guaranteed in the constitution. It has to be enacted by the Parliament by September 19, the deadline set by the constitution.

The bill says the aggrieved parties will be entitled to reasonable compensation. It addresses seven issues mentioned in Article 28 of the constitution which stipulates: The privacy of any person, his or her residence, property, documents, data, correspondences and matters related to  character shall, except in accordance with law, be inviolable.

The bill proposes that individual’s private details kept with government bodies shall not be publicised without consent. It  prohibits publication of individuals’ personal details such as citizenship, passport, driving licence, academic qualifications,  medical report, bank details including cheque, draft, thumb print, land ownership certificates, pension and  voter identity card without consent. The bill also proposes to keep individuals’ property, income, political affiliation, election and business confidential.

The bill, however, proposes that the government can publish details of public officers’ property in the gazette.

The bill proposes to prohibit unrelated persons from reading or publishing other’s letters and emails.

The bill prohibits taking individual’s photo without his/her permission and recording telephone conversation between individuals without their consent.

The bill says no one should collect individuals’ personal details and store or process, or publicise them. It also prohibits unreasonable search and seizure of individual’s house and installation of CCTV cameras in others’ houses without the owners’ permission. Letters written by individuals will also be confidential unless the person gives up his/her right and the government has valid reasons for sharing those details with others.

Details related to public officers’ posts, duties and terms and conditions of service cannot remain confidential.

The bill states that faces of the accused should not to be made public before indictment. It prohibits recording conversation or exchange of letters between two persons but such restriction will not apply to conversations already made public.

Trespassing into others’ property will be a violation of right to privacy.

Vice-chair Sharma said enactment of law will deter violation of individual’s privacy on social networking sites. “We have left compensation issues for judges to decide because loss may vary from person to person and cannot be predicted,” he added.