President seeks grounds from the government for pardoning convictsPaudel has sought the criteria from the government for recommending amnesty for 34 doing time for crimes.
Amid increasing criticism of the presidential pardon of inmates convicted of crimes, President Ramchandra Paudel has sought the criteria from the government for recommending amnesty for 34 convicts.
The Office of the President asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to present the grounds for pardoning convicts. The government had presented two lists for pardon. One includes the 670 prisoners who have completed 50 percent of their jail terms and demonstrated good behaviour as prisoners. The list forwarded on the Cabinet’s recommendation has been approved by the President.
Another list of the 34 prisoners was forwarded by the home ministry as per clause 159 of the National Criminal Procedure (Code) Act 2017.
A person who is sentenced by a court judgement to punishment for an offence may make a petition to the President through the Ministry of Home Affairs, for pardon, suspension, alteration or reduction of that sentence, as per the clause. It further says that the petitioner shall attach a copy of the court's judgement, based on which he or she was sentenced.
"There is no such supporting document for the pardon. This is why the President returned the list to the home ministry," Kiran Pokharel, press adviser to President Paudel, told the Post. "The Cabinet's recommendation to grant pardon to the other 670 prisoners from their remaining jail term has, however, been approved.”
The Cabinet had made the recommendation per Article 276 of the Constitution of Nepal. The President may, under the law, grant pardons, suspend, commute or remit any sentence passed by any Court, judicial or quasi-judicial institution or administrative authority or institution, the article says.
Minister for Communications and Information Technology Rekha Sharma, the government spokesperson, said there was a discussion in the Cabinet about the President's concern. "We agreed to move ahead in consultation with the President's Office regarding the pardon to 34 people," Sharma said at a press meeting on Sunday.
There is a practice of pardoning inmates and convicts by the President, on the Cabinet's recommendation, on Republic Day, Constitution Day and during Dashain.
However, such decisions have got mired in controversy, time and again.The pardon granted by the then President Bidya Devi Bhandari in 2018 to Bal Krishna Dhungel, a murder convict, was heavily criticised. Similarly, President Paudel’s move to grant pardon to Resham Chaudhary, a convict in the 2015 Tikapur carnage, in May, too courted controversy.