On Saturday during the occasion of Republic Day, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari granted amnesty to 434 prisoners serving sentences in various prisons across the country.
A press release issued by the Office of the President on Friday stated that eligible jailbirds were granted amnesty under various sections of law after getting the recommendation from the Council of Ministers on May 27.
According to Jailor Laxmi Prasad Sapkota from Central Jail, people who have been convicted of small-time crimes and who have already served 50 percent of jail term, while showing good conduct in prison are selected for the waiver.
“However, those convicted for 16 types of heinous crimes, including human trafficking, corruption, rape, molestation, and smuggling of drugs and body parts of wild animals are not eligible for such pardon, as per Prison Act 1963. So those people are not listed for waiver,” said Sapkota.
According to Sapkota, 31 people from central jail were released on Saturday.
Nepal has a tradition of granting amnesty to eligible prisoners on three occasions every year which are Constitution Day, Republic Day and Democracy Day.
However, last year in April, following a Supreme Court order to release people held for minor charges, the Department of Prison Management had released 409 prisoners, primarily juveniles, amid growing concerns of possible transmission of Covid-19 in overcrowded prisons.
They were released under Section 155 of the 2017 Criminal Code which allows authorities to release inmates sentenced for up to a year in jail by converting their jail terms into fines.
According to Bednidhi Adhikari, Director General for the Department of Prison Management, jailors after listing eligible people for the waiver send the list to Chief District Officers Office after verifying the list, it is sent to Department of Prison Management which later forwards the list to Cabinet before seeking presidential approval.
“As the list of prisoners is verified at different levels there is a low chance of ineligible people being released,” said Adhikari.
According to data provided by the Department of Prison Management among the released prisoners 393 were male while the remaining 37 were female.
Of the 430 inmates released, 132 were spending sentence for murder charge, 87 for vehicular homicides, 79 for polygamy marriage, 57 for robbery , 36 for attempted murder and 39 in other charges, according to the data.
According to Adhikari, the amnesty is provided three times in a year and it not only helps to reduce pressure in overcrowded prisons but also gives an opportunity to small-time offenders to correct themselves.