The Kathmandu District Court has slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on comedian Apoorwa Kshitiz Singh.
The bench of Judge Kapil Mani Gautam on Sunday has found him guilty of violating section 165 of the National Penal Code that prohibits undermining of social rites and rituals.
He was also charged of acting against public peace, and promoting untouchability or discriminatory treatment on
ground of caste. The court has not punished him for those offenses stating that the claims could not be established.
Singh was arrested on August 28, 2022 after some activists lodged complaints against him at the District Police Range Kathmandu accusing him of insulting the Newar community in one of his stand-up comedy acts and then released on date on September 8.
Singh has told Setopati that the court has set a bad precedent by fining him for his stand-up comedy act. “Anybody can be sued for trivial issues after this precedent. I am trying to raise this issue,” he has stated.
He has added that he is undecided about whether to appeal the verdict or not as the full text of the verdict is yet to arrive.
A YouTube channel called Comedy Cafe had uploaded a video of Singh’s stand-up comedy titled “Newarko Parampara” (Newar’s Tradition) on August 26. However, the video was removed within 24 hours following criticism as many people from the Newar community objected to it and accused Singh of mocking their language, food and culture.
Singh later apologized for it through Facebook, but some activists still lodged complaints with the police demanding action against him. He was subsequently taken into custody for investigation.
The activists had filed four separate complaints against him under Section 165 (Prohibition of undermining social rites and rituals), Section 166 (Prohibition of untouchability or discriminatory treatment on ground of caste) and Section 168 (Prohibition of degrading or inhuman treatment) of Chapter 10 (Offenses Relating to Discrimination and Other Degrading Treatment), and Section 65 (Prohibition of acts prejudicial to public tranquility) of Chapter 2 (Offenses against Public Tranquility) of the Nepal Penal (Code) Act, 2017.
The District Government Attorney Office had filed a charge sheet demanding Singh be jailed for one to five years.
The Kathmandu District Court on October 20, 2022 had released Singh on a bail of Rs 250,000.