Rupa Sunar has filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court demanding sacking of Education, Science and Technology Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha as well as action against him for perpetuating caste-based discrimination and untouchability.
The writ petition, filed on Sunday, seeks the removal of Minister Shrestha stating that him misusing his ministerial position and government resources had affected the criminal investigation into serious issues such as caste-based discrimination and untouchability — deemed illegal by the constitution and law.
In the writ, Education Minister Shrestha, District Public Prosecutor’s Office Babar Mahal, Metropolitan Police Circle Singh Durbar and Saraswati Pradhan have been named as defendants.
Sunar had lodged a police complaint against Saraswati Pradhan, a house owner at Babarmahal, on June 17 alleging that Pradhan had denied to rent her house to Sunar upon learning her caste.
On June 20, Pradhan was arrested and held in judicial custody for three days for investigation into the case.
Police released Pradhan on the third day of her arrest. Minister Shrestha had reached the police station to escort Pradhan to her house.
After the incident, Sunar said that she had tried to lodge a complaint against Minister Shrestha at the Singha Durbar Police Circle, but the police refused to register it.
Sunar’s writ petition also says that the Singha Durbar Police Circle had refused to register her complaint.
The writ petition has demanded that action be taken against Minister Shrestha as per the Caste Untouchability and Other Social Discrimination (Fault and Punishment) Act 2068 BS.
In her writ, Sunar has accused the District Attorney’s Office and the police circle in Singha Durbar of not providing information when asked the basis for Pradhan’s release from custody despite the investigation being underway.
The writ petition has also demanded written information about the progress made in the case against Saraswati Pradhan and about the decision to release her.
It has also demanded the arrest of Saraswati Pradhan in the coming days stating that she could destroy evidence and obstruct the investigation with the influence of high-ranking officials.
The Supreme Court is likely to hear Sunar’s petition today.
Article 24(1) under Right against untouchability and discrimination of the Constitution of Nepal 2015 provides that no person shall be subjected to any form of untouchability or discrimination in any private and public places on grounds of his or her origin, caste, tribe, community, profession, occupation or physical condition.
Similarly, Article 24(2) of the Constitution provides that In producing or distributing any goods, services or facilities, no person belonging to any particular caste or tribe shall be prevented from purchasing or acquiring such goods, services or facilities nor shall such goods, services or facilities be sold, distributed or provided only to the persons belonging to any particular caste or tribe.
Article 24(3) provides that no act purporting to demonstrate any person or community as superior or inferior on grounds of origin, caste, tribe or physical condition or justifying social discrimination on grounds of caste, tribe or untouchability or propagating ideology based on untouchability and caste-based superiority or hatred or encouraging caste-based discrimination in any manner whatsoever shall be allowed.
Likewise, 24(4) stipulates that no discrimination in any form shall be allowed at a workplace with or without making untouchability on the ground of caste.
Article 24(5) provides any act of untouchability and discrimination in any for committed in contravention of this Article shall be punishable by law as a severe social offence, and the victim of such act shall have the right to obtain compensation in accordance with law.
Meanwhile, Section 166 of the National Penal (Code) Act, 2017 provides the prohibition of untouchability or discriminatory treatment on ground of caste.
Subsection 1 of Section 166 provides that no person shall subject any one to untouchability or any other kind of discrimination, or prevent anyone from appearing in any public place or entering into any religious place of public nature, or deprive any one of using water or water pond in public use or of the use of things of any other private or public utility or convenience, on the grounds of custom, tradition, religion, culture, rites or rituals, caste, race, community, profession, occupation, physical condition or origin of social community.
Subsection 2 of Section 166 states that a person who commits, or causes to be committed, the offence referred to in sub-section (1) shall be liable to a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or a fine not exceeding thirty thousand rupees or both the sentences, and if a public servant commits the offence referred to in this Section, he or she shall be liable to an additional sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
Furthermore, the Caste-Based Discrimination and Untouchability (Offence and Punishment) Act (10), Section 4, sub-section 10 says, “No one shall, on the ground of caste or race, exclude any member of family or prevent him or her from entering into the house or evict him or her from the house or village, or compel him or her to leave the house or village.”