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Nepal Table of Contents



The Legal Code

The judicial system initiated under the Ranas, despite some limited reforms, remained traditional in character in the early 1990s. The Muluki Ain of 1854, the legal code introduced by the first Rana prime minister, Jang Bahadur Rana, combined ancient Hindu sanctions and customary law and common laws modeled on the British and Indian codes with the rules of behavior that had evolved over the centuries among the Newars in the Kathmandu Valley (see The Kot Massacre , ch. 1).

The Muluki Ain was amended several times and was completely revised in 1963. Over the years, the Muluki Ain blended royal edicts, proclamations, and piecemeal legislation. The entire corpus of law was consolidated in a compilation called the Ain Sangraha. Customs were applied in the absence of legislative provisions or judicial procedures.

The revised code sought to promote social harmony and declared all persons theoretically equal in the eyes of the law, thus ending legal discrimination based on caste, creed, and sex. The code granted the right to divorce, permitted intercaste marriages, and abolished the laws sanctioning untouchability. These provisions were drafted at the behest of the king. A uniform family law was applicable to all religious communities and was contained in the Muluki Ain. When the code was silent, however, the custom of the particular community applied. The code remained the existing substantive law in 1991.

Data as of September 1991