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SC seeks clarification for lowering jail term of black marketers

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KATHMANDU — The Supreme Court has issued a show cause notice to the government authorities, demanding the reason for shortening jail terms of black marketers amending Some Other Public Crimes and Punishment Act, 1975.

The five-member Constitutional Bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli, Deepak Raj Joshee, Om Prakash Mishra, Deepak Kumar Karki and Cholendra SJB Rana on Wednesday issued the notice to the government, seeking clarification on the two-year-old amendment that provisions a lower jail term than before for those convicted for black marketing.

Stating that the government led by KP Sharma Oli amended the Act with an intention of supporting black marketers, petitioner by advocate Jagannath Mishra had accused it of reducing the jail term to ultimately support entrepreneurs who engage in black marketing.

The petitioner also stated that the government had hatched a conspiracy to support black marketers with a lighter punishment by amending the Act.

The amendment came into effect from February 25, 2016 which reduced the jail sentence for various crimes such as profiteering, manipulating the supply of goods, cheating on quality and creating artificial shortages, from between three to 10 years in jail to up to no more than one year.

Advocate Mishra accused the government of undermining social justice for consumers as enshrined in the Constitution stating the provision was inserted in the Act in a grave deviation from the principal of consumerism and the constitutionally guaranteed rights of consumers.

Article 52 of the Constitution states that only cases deserving more than one-year jail sentence can be tried in district court and other cases which may deserve lighter punishment will be tried in other quasi-judicial bodies such as the District Administration Office.

The petitioner has sought the apex court’s intervention to put the rights of consumers back on track.

The bench has given the defendants — the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Minister, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Parliament Secretariat — 15 days to submit their written replies.

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Demand for legalizing same-sex marriage

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KATHMANDU- Stakeholders concerned have demanded a law related to same-sex marriage in the context when the Nepal’s constitution and laws have accepted the concept of marital equality.

At an interaction program held with media about the issue of gender identity and sexual orientation by an organization named Yubalaya here Sunday, the demand came as a prompt need of the time by the people concerned.

The complaint of homosexuals was that they were deprived of marriage by choice in the absence of the legalization of same-sex marriage which according to them is the deprivation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.

Blue Diamond Society Program Officer Anuj Peter said though the constitution has promised to make special provisions for protection, empowerment or development of gender and sexual minorities, such vows are yet to be executed in practice.

Peter, who identifies himself as a homosexual, shares that he has been legally denied to marry a man of his choice.

Yubalaya Chair Sabin Singh highlighted the need of support from media and civil society to address the issue of gender identity and sexual minorities regarding same-sex marriage law.

The participants of the program put their queries about marital equality, broader sexual education and safe abortion.

As told by the Society, to date, 30 countries across the world have legalized same-sex marriage and endorsed a law towards that end and the Netherlands was the first country to legalize it in the end of 2000.

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