Nepal | November 20, 2019

New bill deprives provinces of right to prosecute criminals

Ram Kumar Kamat

Kathmandu, April 24

The bill related to management of ties among centre, provinces and local levels, registered at the Parliament Secretariat recently, proposes to deny provinces rights to prosecute criminals.

Section 8 of the bill stipulates that for any criminal act that could carry jail term, the process of investigating cases where the government is a plaintiff and criminal cases are filed against individuals by the state should be governed by federal laws.

Chief Attorney of Province 2 Dipendra Jha said while the bill contained some good provisions, including the provision that lets provinces and local levels frame their own laws on concurrent powers in case the federal government failed to provide umbrella laws, the bill unfairly deprived provinces’ of prosecutorial rights. “While giving prosecutorial right to provinces may entail amendment to the constitution, the bill could have incorporated progressive provisions to enable provinces to use prosecutorial rights in some criminal cases,” Jha said.

He added that the bill’s provisions were unfair, as they deprived provinces of prosecutorial rights in all criminal cases. “We are going to draft a new child rights bill. It will be justified if a province proposes jail term of one to three months for those who may exploit children, but this bill does not give provinces that power,” Jha argued. He said depriving provinces of prosecutorial rights meant that the elected governments of provinces could not live up to their people’s expectations. “How can provincial governments function if they cannot send a criminal to jail even for one day?” Jha wondered.

He said impact of the bill’s provision will be felt in almost all the bills that the provinces would enact in the future. “Provinces have prosecutorial rights in other countries,” he said and added that the federal government could have jurisdiction on serious criminal offences and provincial governments on other criminal offences.

The bill stipulates that the three tiers of the government should perform their duties in a way that does not lead to any dispute among them.

It adds that inter-provincial council will settle political disputes between the centre and provinces and among provinces. IPC will settle mainly the disputes arising out of provinces’ grievances that certain actions of the federal government and its agencies have breached provinces’ powers.

IPC can also look into the allegation of provincial governments’ actions infringing upon the federal government’s powers and disputes among provinces. IPC cannot discuss any issues that are under consideration of the Parliament and provincial assemblies.

A version of this article appears in print on April 25, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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