December 8: Cases of banking offenses have increased sharply in recent months. According to the Kathmandu District Public Prosecutor's Office, the police have forwarded 2,651 cases of banking offense to the Public Prosecutor's Office from June 27 to November 16.
The data shows that more than 20 complaints are filed daily seeking justice in banking offence cases.
Government employees expect more cases to be filed in coming days as the figures of last month were less than anticipated due to lots of public holidays between June 27 to November 16.
The situation of banking offense seems alarming if the figures from across the country are taken into consideration.
Concerned officials say that even though cases of banking offense started appearing 8 to 10 years ago, they started to increase from the fiscal year 2079/80 and have peaked recently.
On June 27, the government made an arrangement allowing even the district attorney's office to investigate and prosecute individuals in cases of banking offense. Before that, commercial benches were appointed in some high courts for looking after such cases.
According to an employee of the Kathmandu District Public Prosecutor's Office, employees are fully engaged in work as the number of complaints related to banking offenses has been increasing.
"We have lots of files to go through but the number of employees is very small," said the official requesting not to be named.
He complained that the workload of the Kathmandu District Public Prosecutor's office has increased since June 27, but the staff has not increased.
"The work load has increased by 30-40 percent but the number of government lawyers in the office is the same as it was before (35 people)."
After the complaint of banking offense is registered, the police sends it to the public prosecutor's office for its opinion. Police handles the cases based on the opinion of the public prosecutor's office.
Most of the complaints are related to cheque bounce
Government officials say that most of the people who come to the public prosecutor's office complain of cheque bounce. In the first four months of the current fiscal year, cases of cheque bounce worth about Rs 3 billion have been registered at the Kathmandu District Police Range. During this period, the police have arrested 612 people including 164 women on charges of cheque bounce.
During the last fiscal year, 2,340 people were arrested on charges of cheque bounce. It is mentioned in the police data that cheques worth Rs 47.5 billion were bounced last year.
In the last fiscal year, more than 7,000 complaints of banking offenses were registered in District Police Range Kathmandu alone.
After the police submits its report, the public prosecutor's office studies and decides whether to file a case in court or not.
After the increase in cheque bounce cases, the government has introduced a bill to amend the Banking Offenses and Punishment Act, 2064 with provisions to increase the punishment for the guilty.
The bill is currently pending in the House of Representatives. Noting that the increase in the number of banking offenses has raised serious concerns, the concerned authorities have suggested that a deep investigation should be conducted into why this is happening.
"Is it because of the development of a tendency to enjoy cheating one another or because of increased financial problems?" said an officer of the Kathmandu Police Range, adding, "People who are considered to be affluent in the society have also been convicted of the crime of banking offences. A detailed study and research is needed to find out why this is happening.”
What is a banking offense?
Crimes against banking and financial system are banking offense. There is a universal practice of treating banking offenses as a crime because it is essential to increase public confidence in the banking and financial system, protect the rights and interests of depositors, ensure quality services of banks and financial institutions and maintain financial stability.
What is a cheque bounce?
A cheque presented in a bank is considered bounced if a person issuing the cheque to someone does it knowing that there is not enough money in the bank account, or if the bank deposit is insufficient. The person who received the cheque must file a case in court within six months of the cheque being bounced. If the claim is proven, there is a provision in the Banking Offenses Act, 2064, that the court can impose fines accordingly.