Govt told to compensate murder convict

Kathmandu, February 25

In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court today ordered the government to compensate Padam Maya Gurung, a resident of Dhankuta, who had to serve five years, six months and 10 days more than the sentence awarded to her for killing her newborn baby ‘conceived due to  rape’.

According to Gurung’s lawyer Niranjan Upreti, the court ordered the government to pay a compensation of Rs 658,000 to Gurung for the excess time she had to serve in prison.

The verdict was delivered by a division bench of Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli and Justice Kedar Prasad Chalise.

On February 21, 1992, Dhankuta District Court had sentenced Gurung to life and had ordered confiscation of her property for killing her newborn baby.

However, the court invoked leniency Clause 188 of the Court Proceedings Chapter of General Code and reduced her jail sentence to 10 years.

According to Gurung’s petition, she did not challenge the verdict, as she was neither aware of the legal process nor did she have the resources.

Her conviction was endorsed by the Appellate Court but when the verdict was referred to the Supreme Court for the final endorsement, the apex court commuted her jail sentence to five years. As Gurung’s sentence was reduced to five years, she was to be released on December 16, 1996, but was released only on June 24, 2002.

Upreti said Gurung had to serve excess time in jail because the Supreme Court, which was supposed to send a copy of its decision to the jail administration directly or through Dhankuta District Court, did not do so for long.

Gurung filed a case under Torture Compensation Act at Dhankuta District Court with the help of some lawyers, but the court gave a verdict against her. The Appellate Court upheld the District Court’s verdict, forcing her to move the SC.

Upreti said the petitioner had demanded compensation calculating the monetary loss of at least Rs 300 per day. “The SC agreed with our argument, but it awarded Rs 900 less than what we had sought. We had sought compensation for 2,018 days of excess imprisonment, but the court observed that she had spent 2,015 days more than the awarded sentence,” Upreti added.

Gurung stated in her petition that she was living with her parents after she was abandoned by her husband.

She claimed that she was raped by a villager and became pregnant.

She further claimed that she delivered the baby clandestinely and killed the newborn because she was afraid that if her parents knew of the birth, she would be abandoned by her parents as well.

Padam Maya Gurung had admitted to killing her newborn baby in the court as well.