There will be no by-election in the House of Representatives (HoR) constituency of Kailali-2 despite Nagarik Unmukti Party lawmaker Arun Kumar Chaudhary being sent to jail in an arson case.
On April 22, 2013, a bench of the then district judge Bishnu Subedi at Kailali District Court had sentenced Arun Chaudhary, Parshuram Chaudhary and Bir Bahadur Chaudhary to six months in prison. The court had also ordered them to pay Rs 819,423.
The arson case dates back to August 19, 2008.
Lawmaker Chaudhary and others had thrashed Sajan Chaudhary and also set fire to the tractor (Lu 2 Ta 211) he was driving when he was returning with stones from Goranga Khola at Chisapani that day.
The tractor belonged to Mahadev Bajgain, who would be elected mayor of Lamki Chuha Municipality in 2017. A case was filed against lawmaker Chaudhary and others based on Bajgain’s complaint.
There will be no by-election as there is no constitutional or legal provision requiring by-election if an elected lawmaker is jailed. Article 103 (6) of the Constitution requires the House concerned to be informed of the arrest.
“The Constitution has a provision requiring the authority making arrest of any lawmaker to give information about the arrest to the person presiding over the House concerned,” Joint Secretary of law at the Federal Parliament Secretariat Laxmi Prasad Gautam told Setopati. “The House will now notify about his arrest.”
The post, however, will not be vacant despite Arun Chaudhary being jailed. Resham Chaudhary, who was elected to the last HoR in 2017, had spent almost the whole of the five-year term in jail.
Arun Chaudhary can attend the House after completing his jail term. He can even get his jail term shortened seeking legal facilities.
“If, in view of the age of the offender who is convicted, at the first instance, of any offense punishable by a sentence of imprisonment for a term of one year or less, gravity of the offense, manner of commission of the offense and his or her conduct, as well, the court does not consider it appropriate to confine the offender in prison and is of the view that there will be no threat to the public peace, law and order if he or she is released, and the court, for the reasons to be recorded, considers it appropriate to dispense with the requirement of undergoing imprisonment upon payment of a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the court may order that the offender be not liable to undergo imprisonment if he or she makes payment of money in lieu of imprisonment,” clause155 (1) of the National Criminal Procedure (Code) Act, 2017 states about payment of money in lieu of imprisonment.
He will have to pay at the rate of Rs 300 per day for the jail term.
Joint Secretary at the Election Commission Guru Wagle said such facilities have been used for offenders who have been sentenced short terms.
Nava Raj Pandey with the Kailali District Court told Setopati that no application for payment of money in lieu of imprisonment has been received on behalf of the lawmaker yet. “The judge will take a call on the basis of behavior, gravity of the offense and other issues if such application is received.”