Crime victims will come forward to lodge complaints against the offenders as the act has provisions to protect them and their privacy

It took four years for the government to frame the Crime Victim Protection Rules-2021 following the amendment to the National Criminal Procedure (Code) Act-2017, also popularly known as the Penal Code, which was first introduced by Rana Prime Minister Jung Bahadur in 1854. The new civil and criminal codes came into force on October 16, 2017, one year after they were endorsed by the Federal Parliament.

The penal code has also addressed new and emerging crimes by increasing the quantum of punishment and fines while also adding provisions to protect the crime victims from the perpetrators. One of the major features of the penal code is to give legal protection to the crime victims, especially girls, women, children and marginalised groups, who are unable to come forward to lodge complaints and protect themselves from the perpetrators. The Crime Victim Protection Act (CVPA) could not come into force for lack of related rules. With the Crime Victim Protection Rules-2021 now in place, it will be the duty of the law enforcing agencies to provide protection to the victims of crime and their family members should they demand so.

Majority of the girls, women, children, dalits and people from the marginalised groups, who fall victim to rape, incestuous relations, paedophilia, acid attacks, practice of witchcraft and human trafficking, do not report to the police due to threats, intimidation and financial temptation from the offenders.

Therefore, many such cases go unreported, and most of them are also settled at the community level in the presence of village elites and local elected representatives.

The illegal settlements of the crimes often go in favour of the perpetrators.

The government has, therefore, issued an ordinance which has criminalised out-of-court settlement of criminal offences.

The rules ensure the right to justice for the crime victims, criminal investigation, adjudication of cases, compensation and social rehabilitation as stipulated in the law. The police and District Administration Office are required to make appropriate security arrangements for the crime victims. It will also be the duty of the police to protect the victims from the crime suspect, perpetrators, defendants and their witnesses. As per the rules, the victims are also entitled to compensation, including medical treatment and payment made to the lawyers, on the basis of the harm inflicted on him/her. It is also required to provide psychological counseling and maintain the privacy of the victims of rape, human trafficking and paedophilia. The police are also required to give upto-date information about the legal action being taken against the perpetrators, and the court should also inform the victims about the legal status of the crime. Whether or not the act will be implemented in the real sense will largely depend on the efficiency of the investigating officer. As the CVPA is quite new for Nepal's legal system, the investigating officers, who are the first to implement the law, should also be given training to protect the crime victims. Many victims of heinous crimes are expected to come forward to lodge complaints against the offenders as the act has provisions to protect them and their privacy.

Poor management

Hetauda Cement Industry Limited (HCIL), a government undertaking, has said it is having to bear huge financial losses, to the tune of Rs 250 million, in 2020-21 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The industry had faced similar losses the previous year in 2019-20 as well. Indeed, the pandemic has caused great losses to all enterprises, public or private, as the months-long lockdowns and prohibitory orders have shut down all businesses and pushed the people indoors. However, let the pandemic not be an excuse for any public enterprise to go in a loss.

Since the HCIL was established in the Eighties, rarely has it shown any profit or expanded. The industry, established with an initial capacity of producing 750 metric tons of cement a day, should have been producing millions of tons by now. With constant changes in the management in line with the change in the government, it is not surprising that it is in such poor shape. The government should stop aiding loss-making industries to pay the salaries of the workers and staff as there will be no incentive to work hard to be self-sustaining. Perhaps, the government isn't meant to be running industries in this age of tough competition.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 9 2021, of The Himalayan Times.