Probe with malicious intent criminalised

An investigating officer found guilty of malicious probe will be sentenced for up to six months or fined

Kathmandu, June 16

The new penal code which will come into effect on August 17, contains a provision whereby investigating officers will be punished if found guilty of malicious investigation.

This is the first time malicious investigation has been criminalised.

Section 99 (1) of the Muluki Criminal Code Act states that an investigating authority should not launch investigation to falsely implicate innocent people or to give clean chit to criminals.

Section 99  (2)  of the act stipulates that an investigating officer found guilty of malicious investigation  will face sentence not exceeding six months or a fine not exceeding  Rs 5,000 or both.

Section 99 (3) of the act stipulates that the investigating officer who has been found guilty of malicious investigation will be liable to compensate victims if they suffer any loss.

Criminal law expert Prof Rajit Bhakta Pradhanang said the new provision related to malicious investigation was incorporated in the new penal code mainly to make police more accountable and to protect people’s liberty.

“This provision will deter detectives and government attorneys from falsely indicting any individual or tampering with or destroying evidences,” he said, adding, “Some people fight court battles for 15 to 20 years and are acquitted in the end by the apex court.”

Pradhanang, who was involved in the drafting of the original penal code bill,  said, initially police officials vehemently opposed the bill’s proposal to punish police officials for malicious investigation, but eventually agreed to have such a provision in the bill.

Spokesperson for Office of the Attorney General Sanjib Raj Regmi said the new law intended to criminalise malicious investigation also gave immunity to investigators if they acted in good faith.

“No public officer should be allowed to act with malice, and therefore, this provision is absolutely justified,” Regmi argued.

One objective of the new provision is to tell investigative officers to file cases only when there is adequate evidence against an accused, he added.

Spokesperson for Nepal Police Senior Superintendent of Police Shailesh Thapa Chhetri said, “Nepal Police cannot defend malicious investigation. We are providing training to cops at all levels to arm them with necessary knowledge, skills and expertise so that they can fully implement the new penal code,” he added.

Thapa said the new law would also help protect human rights.