NC seeks to amend new penal code

Kathmandu, August 19

The Nepali Congress has thrown its weight behind journalists and media outlets who demand decriminalisation of defamation and right to privacy issues in the new penal code that came into force on August 17.

Addressing a press conference organised at NC headquarters here today to review the Nepal Communist Party (NCP)’s six months in government, NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma said some of the provisions of the new penal code served as Damocles’ sword on journalists, and therefore, the penal code should be amended to decriminalise defamation and rights issues related to journalists and media.

Sharma added that the new law should be amended also to address the concerns of doctors, who also want decriminalisation of medical negligence and recklessness.

Sharma said although the new penal code was enacted when his party was in power last year, the new government should not deflect blame and refuse to amend new laws. “The objective of giving one year period before implementing the new civil and penal code was to know its shortcomings and make amendments to new laws,” Sharma said.

He added that all political forces should be ready to amend the bill irrespective of who ensured the enactment of the law.

“If something is lacking in new laws, then all of us should admit our mistakes and we should be ready to amend them after discussing the issues with stakeholders,” he added.

Stating that local levels were levying exorbitant taxes on the public, Sharma said the central government could not pass the buck citing lack of jurisdiction.  He said the central government was plotting to weaken provincial and local governments to create a negative opinion against federalism, with an ultimate aim of foiling federalism.

He said the government’s prejudiced statements against the main opposition party, attempt to ban protests in key places of Kathmandu and increased intervention in the media were not in conformity with the democratic culture.

“This government which claims to be the champion of proletariats, has given a costly gift of inflation to the public,” he added. The party also issued a press release stating that the judiciary became a victim of the prime minister’s double standard.

Attempts are being made to make the judiciary subservient to the executive and legislature, the main opposition party stated in its release.

The NC added that the ruling party, which gave the slogan of nationalism during elections, had badly failed on nationalism issues after it formed the government. The party said the government’s pledge to work for prosperity proved to be false mainly because the government neither showed its will power to achieve those goals nor did it show any departure from the past to achieve the goal of prosperity.

It stated that the government’s treatment of a vice-chancellor of a university, immunity for the big fish in a gold smuggling racket and protection of the corrupt by the government had rendered hollow its promise of good governance.