Govt urged to implement apex court’s order on jailbirds

SC order aims to avoid crowds in prisons


The National Human Rights Commission has urged the government to implement provisions stipulated in the Criminal Offences (Determination and Execution of Sentence) Act-2017, for improvement of prison conditions.

The NHRC made the request based on the May 4 interim order of the Supreme Court in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.

Issuing a press statement recently, the rights body called on the government to publish a notice in the Nepal Gazette no later than September 27, on commencement of implementation of the provisions on sections 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 and 49 of the act. “We also request the government to implement the power to rebate the sentencing of prisoners or inmates in accordance with rule 29 of prison regulations, without discrimination,” said the NHRC.

The SC order aims at reducing the pressure of crime suspects in prisons to avoid unnecessary crowd during the pandemic. As per the act, the government can rebate the jail sentence of a person convicted of small-time offences and imprisoned for a term not exceeding one year. The concerned authority may free a person from the prison or police custody depending on the gravity of the criminal offence.

If it does not appear necessary to hold a person in detention in the course of investigation, the police or adjudicating authority may remand such person on bail or guarantee or on recognisance.

However, any person convicted of heinous crimes like corruption, torture, rape, cruel murder, genocide, explosives, kidnapping, hostage-taking or enforced disappearance, human trafficking and transportation, money laundering and drugs smuggling will not be entitled to enjoy this facility.

The rights body has expressed serious concern over reported cases of COVID-19, among jailbirds in various prisons. The outbreak of the coronavirus disease has led to panic among their fellow prisoners and family members.

As many as 231 jailbirds have tested positive for COVID-19 as of yesterday. Of them, 86 persons have recovered and five succumbed to the deadly virus. Eleven of 71 prisons across the country have reported COVID-19 cases.

Almost all prisons in the country are crammed with jailbirds beyond their holding capacity. The prisoners have been living under constant panic. Entry of new members into prison and taking any jailbird to hospital for medical treatment have increased chances of COVID-19 infection “Bagmati Province Office of the NHRC has also written to the Department of Prison Management to ensure that the prisoners or inmate enjoy their human rights and right to health,” read the statement.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on September 23, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.