Nepal’s court sentences a pastor to two years in jail for proselytizing

Details of the verdict are yet to become public but the incident could potentially trigger a debate about religious freedom in Nepal.

Pastor Keshav Raj Acharya was sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of Rs 20,000 for violating Nepal's anti-conversion law. (Photo: Christian Solidarity Worldwide)

NL Today

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Kathmandu: Dolpa District Court in far west Nepal has sentenced a pastor to two years in jail for proselytizing. A single bench of judge Keshavraj Chapai on Tuesday sentenced pastor Keshavraj Acharya to two years in jail and slapped a fine of Rs 20,000 for a ‘forced conversion.’

Acharya was sentenced for forcing a woman from Tripura Sundari Municipality-2 to convert to Christianity.

Acharya was arrested on March 24 from Pokhara on a charge of ‘spreading rumors’ by assembling people in a church. He had claimed that Jesus would treat Covid-19.

Another case against Acharya is currently sub-judice at Kaski District Court.

The constitution of Nepal has guaranteed the right to freedom of religion as a fundamental right in Article 26. The Article, however, states that a person who does any act to convert another person from one religion to another shall be punishable by law.

Nepal’s national penal code has prohibited proselytizing. Section 158 of the penal code states that no person shall convert any one from one religion to another or make an attempt to or abet such conversion. As per the provision, a person who commits, or causes to be committed, the offence shall be liable to a sentence of imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and a fine not exceeding fifty thousand rupees.