Nepal | June 04, 2020

EDITORIAL: Wrong verdict

The Himalayan Times
Share Now:

BOPA is a strong deterrent to fraud involving bad cheques as the erring party could be imprisoned and also fined

In any country, the dishonour of a cheque by a bank is a serious criminal offense punishable by imprisonment and a fine. But the Supreme Court’s recent verdict that ruled against invoking the Banking Offence and Punishment Act (BOPA) 2008 in such cases has baffled both the government and the public at large. The SC’s verdict last month on a case involving Nirmala Sodari, a resident of Kailali district, said that since the Negotiable Instruments Act (NIA) 1977 had included provisions related to dishonoured cheques, such cases should be adjudicated under NIA, not BOPA. So cheque bounce cases will no longer be a criminal case should the SC’s new precedent apply to all similar cases, where the government is the plaintiff. Under the existing provision, in the event a cheque is dishonoured for insufficiency of funds, the affected party can file an FIR at the nearest police office, which will carry out an investigation after arresting the accused.

In July last year, the Supreme Court had squashed the conviction passed against Sodari by the Dipayal High Court after two cheques worth Rs 1,885,000, issued by her to one Ganesh Kumar Rawal, were dishonoured. It ruled that when a case can be filed under both criminal and civil law, then the law that helps maintain peace in society should be invoked. It is not understandable how the SC could have passed a verdict based on NIA when it has been succeeded by BOPA. On March 12 this year, Nepal Rastra Bank, the central bank, had put up a notice calling on the people not to issue cheques if there was inadequate bank balance or face the penalty under BOPA. The notice read, not only would the accused be made to repay the principal amount, he or she would also have to pay a fine equal to it and serve a three-month prison sentence for the offense. Moreover, if a cheque is dishonoured thrice, it said, the party issuing it would not be eligible to open any bank account or be eligible to take loans.

As things stand now, the government is in a dilemma, and the Office of the Attorney General is making preparations to file a review petition against the SC’s recent verdict as it has created confusion. It is not sure if the SC verdict applies solely to Sodari’s case or to all cases involving bounced cheques. There are cases related to dishonoured cheques being investigated by the police while some cases are sub-judice in the commercial benches of the high courts. What will become of them? If civil law is to apply to cheque bounce cases, this could seriously jeopardise the banking system. BOPA is a strong deterrent to fraud involving bad cheques as the erring party could be imprisoned and also fined. That is why the affected party was able to get its money quite quickly. However, should civil law, as under NIA, be applicable, the victims will be at the receiving end as they will have to collect evidence and pursue the case till the end, which will drain the victim physically and financially. The state has the responsibility to protect the banking system, and it should take up the review petition with the SC strongly. The SC, on its part, must see to it that confusing, controversial verdicts, guided by parochial self-interests, are not given.


Rebuild the bridge

The government has now tightened the screw on Pappu Construction to have it construct the 85-metre-long Bagmati Arch Bridge at Tinkune, which violated the exact specification mentioned in the bidding documents. Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project recently sent a letter to the company to dismantle the foundation of the bridge and rebuild it as per the specifications. The construction company has earned a bad name as many of the bridges it has built across the country have been found to be substandard.

An investigation carried out by Pulchowk Engineering Campus on behalf of the government found that the company had to install 29 piles 20 metres beneath the surface. However, the piles had been dug only 16 metres, causing the bridge to become unstable when having to bear the loads of vehicles. This is not the first time that the company has breached the criteria set in the bidding documents. A 62-metre-long Bishnumati Bridge at Teku built by the same company has also been found to be substandard. In both the cases, the firm had bid the lowest to grab the government contract. The company should be blacklisted and fined as per the existing law for causing huge losses to the state.

 


A version of this article appears in print on August 02, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Brazil

Brazil sets another record for daily coronavirus deaths

RIO DE JANEIRO: Brazil registered another record number of novel coronavirus deaths over the last 24 hours, the health ministry said on Tuesday evening, as the pandemic in Latin America's largest country shows no signs of slowing down. The nation registered 28,936 additional cases of the nove Read More...

High-level panel to decide on easing lockdown by tomorrow

KATHMANDU, JUNE 2 The High-Level Coordination Committee for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19 formed under Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence Ishwar Pokharel will decide in a day or two whether or not to ease the lockdown. Member Secretary of the committee Narayan Prasad Bi Read More...

FIFA adds voice to protests over Floyd's death

BERN: World soccer's governing body FIFA has joined sports leagues, teams and players around the globe to express solidarity amid outrage over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in the United States. The National Football League, National Hockey League an Read More...

Nepal's ruling party stresses dialogue with India to resolve territorial dispute 

Kathmandu, June 2  Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Narayan Kaji Shrestha urged India to sit for dialogue with Nepal to resolve Limpiyadhura, Lipulekh and Kalapani issues. He welcomed Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's remark about resolving border disputes with Nepal through dia Read More...

Nepali Congress registers statute amendment bill 

Kathmandu, June 2 The main opposition Nepali Congress today registered a private constitution amendment bill at the Parliament Secretariat seeking to change the constitution's provisions related to citizenship, language, provincial boundaries and formation of a boundary commission. Eight Nepal Read More...

Dhangadi  quarantine

Quarantines in Sudurpaschim bursting at seams 

Dhangadhi, June 2  With the increasing number of returnees from India, the quarantine facilities in Sudupaschim Province are almost packed. The number of migrant workers returning home from India is increasing every day. According to Kailali District Administration Office, around 5,000 Read More...

Nine businessmen held for gambling, remanded to custody 

Kathmandu, June 2 Nine businessmen, some of whom are ‘well-known faces’ in the business fraternity, were sent to five-day police custody after being arrested from a gambling den last night. Deputy Superintendent of Police Raj Kumar KC, also the spokesperson for Metropolitan Police Range,  Read More...

PCR tests of all quarantined persons fraught with problems 

Kathmandu, June 2  The Ministry of Health and Population said that implementing the Supreme Court’s order to conduct tests for coronavirus on all quarantined persons across the country using polymerase chain reaction method was a daunting task. Earlier, the Supreme Court had issued an order Read More...