The "Muluki Ain" of 1854, Nepal’s First Legal Code

The Muluki Ain (Civil Code) established by the then ruler Jung Bahadur Rana in 1854, is Nepal's first written law. It legally classified various communities in Nepal on the basis of ethnicity and caste, and gave further rise to a discriminatory, segregated social structure. At the same time, this Act ensured that only certain castes, and particularly men, had access and control over the resources, means, and power of the state. These laws prescribed differentiated punishments for the same crime depending on the categorization of one’s caste: Tagadhari (high caste Brahmins, Rajputs, Chhetris); Namasinya Matwali (non-enslavable alcohol drinker); Masinya Matwali (enslavable alcohol drinker); Pani Na Chalne Chhoichhito Haalnu Naparne (water-unacceptable but touchable); or Pani Na Chalne Chhoichhito Haalnu Parne (water-unacceptable and untouchable).

 

Even after extensive socio-political movements and changes, the effects of caste and class discrimination structured by these codes are still entrenched in our thought and society. During the Panchayat era the national policy, or rather propaganda, of "One Language, One Religion, One Dress, One Country" was adopted under the guise of a “modern” Nepal. This emerging social structure further narrowed our society.
“Modern” or capitalist education never spoke of this legal document. If it had been included in the curriculum, discussions could have been had at a national level; and perhaps today our society would have somewhat understood the severity and complexity of caste and class inequities?

 

The translated version in English and German language is available below and now in public domain.

Cover image : Detail from " How Many Times I Have To Burn It ? " by Hit Man Gurung.
Image on page no xix : " Study of History I " by Subas Tamang.

 

वि.स. १९१० मा तत्कालीन शासक जंगबहादुर राणाले स्थापना गरेको मुलुकी ऐन नेपालकाे पहिलो लिखित कानुन हाे। जसले जातीयताकाे आधारमा नेपालकाे विभिन्न समुदायहरूलाई कानुनी रूपमा वर्गीकरण गरि विभेदकारी तहगत सामाजिक संरचना निर्धारण गर्‍यो। साथै याे ऐनले राज्यको स्रोत , साधन र सत्तामा निश्चित जाति तथा पुरूषहरूको मात्र अधिकार र पहुँच सुनिश्चित गर्‍यो। याे कानुन यति सूक्ष्म रूपमा निर्माण गरियाे कि तागाधारी (ब्राह्मण, राजपुत, क्षेत्री), नमासिने मतुवाली, मासिने मतुवाली, पानी नचल्ने छोइछिटो हाल्नु नपर्ने, पानी नचल्ने छोइछिटो हाल्नुपर्ने र सोही जातका आधारमा एउटै अपराधका लागि भिन्न-भिन्न दण्डको व्यवस्था गर्‍यो।
लामाे राजनीतिक, सामाजिक संघर्ष र परिवर्तन पछि पनि यसले निर्माण गरेकाे जातीय तथा वर्गीय विभेदकाे प्रभाव अझै हाम्रो समाज र साेचबाट हट्न सकेको छैन। आधुनिक नेपालकाे प्रोपोगन्डा सहित उदाएको पञ्चायती व्यवस्थाले अपनाएको " एक भाषा , एक धर्म , एक भूषा , एक देश " काे राष्ट्रिय निति तथा समाजिक संरचनाले हाम्रो समाज झन संकिर्ण हुनपुग्याे । तथाकथित आधुनिक शिक्षा वा हालकाे पुजीवादी शिक्षामा यस ऐतिहासिक कानुनी दस्तावेजलाई कहिले पनि समावेश गरिएन । यदि याे दस्तावेजलाई शैक्षिक पाठ्यक्रममा समावेश गरिएकाे भए, राष्ट्रिय स्तरमा जनमानसमा बहसहरू चालिएको भए सायद आजकाे हाम्रो समाजले जातीय तथा वर्गीय असमानताकाे गम्भीरता र जटिलतालाई केही हदसम्म बुझ्ने थियाे कि ?

 

https://heiup.uni-heidelberg.de/heiup/catalog/book/769?lang=en

#mulukiain #civilcode #castebaseddiscrimination #discriminatorylaws