Saturday, December 31, 2005

Morning shows the day : NBA President

Kathmandu,Dec 31-President of Nepal Bar Association, Shambhu Thapa, alleged that the royal government had failed to establish peace and democracy in the country and urged all to be ready for sacrifice to restore peace and democracy as the country was heading towards a decisive turn.Addressing a program organised by Amnesty International Nepal to mark the 'International Day of Prisoners of Conscience' in the capital on Saturday.

“Morning shows the day,” said Thapa. "The 11-month long direct rule of the King has proved that this government can do nothing other than violating fundamental rights of the people and principle of rule of law. So, nobody should have an illusion that the King could restore peace and democracy in the country within three years," he added.

Coming down heavily upon the appointment of people loyal to the royal palace to the posts of temporary Justices at the apex court, Thapa alleged that the nomination was a ploy to control independent judiciary in the country.

He urged UN OHCHR to play an active role for the protection of human rights during the forthcoming agitation of the civil society and political parties, which he said would be decisive.
He informed that Nepal Bar Association was initiating a debate throughout the country about the present constitution to point out its weaknesses.

Chief of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, Ian Martin, has said the United Nations is serious about the incidents of increasing disappearances, torture and denial of free trial in Nepal.Martin said the UN Secretary General has expressed serious concerns over the rights violation in Nepal.

Issuing a statement on Friday, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed grave concern over the violations of human rights in the country and urged the government to reciprocate unilateral truce declared by the Maoists to restore peace in the country.

Stating that Nepal is passing through serious rights crisis, Martin urged all Nepalese to express solidarity to the rights movement around the world.

Human rights activist and former prisoner of conscience, Krishna Pahadi, said there was no alternative to civic movement in the country to restore people's rights and democracy.Stating that sustainable peace was essential in the country to protect fundamental rights of the people, he said it would be possible only after the restoration of “total democracy” in the country.

Pahadi also expressed dissatisfaction over what he called passivity of the Supreme Court to protect fundamental rights of the people. "The court should act as a doctor to cure illness of the people, not otherwise,” he added.

President of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and a former prisoner of conscience, Bishnu Nisthuri, alleged that the state was creating various obstacles to the independent media in the country as the media was played an important role to increase awareness among people.
He asked the UN OHCHR to pressurize the King to respect people's fundamental rights and restore democracy.

Former prisoner of conscience Thakur Gaire and Gagan Thapa said the agitation by the seven political parties would be decisive to restore democracy in the country as protection of fundamental rights was not possible in its absence.

Amnesty International, an international rights watchdog, observes 31st December as the 'Day of Prisoners of Conscience" every year

Waiting for advice to discuss judges appointments

Kathmandu, Dec 31-The Nepal Bar Association and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) said on Friday they are waiting for advice from senior advocates and the advisers of the NBA before taking any major decision to oppose the recent judges appointments in the SC.

“We will decide on Sunday whether or not to oppose the recent appointments,” said Supreme Court Bar Association President Dhruba Nath Pant. He said they would discuss the issue in meetings called by the NBA and the SCBA.

Advocates, ex-presidents and general secretaries of the NBA would express views in the meetings on Sunday. The NBA had been opposing the appointments of judges Pawan Kumar Ojha, Tahir Ali Ansari, Rajendra Koirala and Bipulendra Chakravarti.

Friday, December 30, 2005

RNA Misuse Welfare Fund:OAG

Kathmandu, Dec 30-The Auditor General said that the Welfare Fund of the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) has been used haphazardly without any standard and systematic auditing.In response to an SC order to present the audit details of the Fund, the Office of the Auditor General said that it has found out many flaws regarding the use of the Fund under different topics while providing facilities to the ex-army men’s families.The Auditor General, Pradip Bikram Rana, submitted a written reply along with its audit report on the RNA’s Welfare Fund to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court had ordered the Auditor General to produce the audit report on the Fund in a ruling on a 4-year-old case filed by Ambar Bahadur Thapamagar, the Chairman of Ex-Army Fund, demanding transparency in the use of the Fund.

The petitioner has also sought the apex court order to provide salary and facilities as per the agreement between the government and the United Nations while deploying the army men for the UN peacekeeping missions abroad.

The AG has recommended forming a working procedure for the use of the Fund. The report also recommended the RNA to invest the amount on income generating sectors rather than depositing it in banks.

Both the State and the Maoists violated Human Rights :NHRC

Kathmandu Dec 30-National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said a total of 26 people lost their lives during the unilateral ceasefire announced by the CPN (Maoist) in the country.Addressing a function organized to launch the report on Friday, member of NHRC Sudip Pathak said though number of killings during the period came down, both the security forces and Maoist rebels continued rights violations during the period.

According to NHRC, there was no let up in activities like forced donations and abductions by rebels even during the ceasefire announced by themselves. The parties in the conflict were found to be using minors to convey messages, torturing their opponents and using schools as their bases, the NHRC said.

The NHRC has marked the formation of controversial media ordinance and forceful confiscation of transmitting equipments from Radio Sagarmatha and Kantipur FM as violation of rights to information. The reports said journalists outside the valley are facing threats from both the government and Maoists not to write news to criticize them and also receiving threats for not abiding by their orders.

The report also mentioned that Maoists are violating people’s right to education by organizing various programmes in schools and also warning not to teach moral education in the school level and not to operate community schools.NHRC member Pathak said, “Forceful collection of donations from teachers has increased during the period.”

Similarly, security personnel were found to be traveling in means of public transport along with the weapons, the report said. Earlier, the Royal Nepalese Army said it had instructed security personnel not to use public vehicles while on duty and along with arms and ammunition.The report further said, security forces created obstacles in importing medicines in remote parts of the country making the approval of local administration mandatory in import of medicine and the Maoists also forcefully took medicines from health posts and closed missions hospital in Okhaldhunga district.
The report also said that both the sides also created obstacles in people’s profession. “Security forces did not allow free movement of goods of entrepreneurs and the Maoists either asked heavy donations from the people involved in such profession and also tortured family members of the security personnel,” the report adds.The report also said that the incident of displacement due to the Maoists’ threats continued during the period as well.

Both the state and the Maoists violated children’s rights during the period of ceasefire as well, the report said.“Security forces used children to receive information about the Maoists in Khotang district, while Maoists are using children as soldiers and engaging them in various activities,” the report said.“Both the sides violated human rights and international humanitarian laws during the period of unilateral ceasefire as well,” the report added.

The CPN (Maoist) had announced three-month-long unilateral ceasefire on September 3, this year keeping in view of what it said “Nepali people’s desire for peace.” The rebels again extended the ceasefire for another one month, which will come to an end on January 2, 2006.
NHRC welcomed the Moist ceasefire and also called upon the government to reciprocate it. The government has not done so saying that the rebels can’t be trusted.

A report compiled by the NHRC after monitoring the ceasefire in 33 out of 75 districts in the country said the state killed 22 people in 12 districts during the period while the rebels killed four people in as many districts during the period.A data compiled by NHRC from various media reports by comparing the situation three months before the ceasefire and during the ceasefire shows that there is decrease in explosions and killings from both the government and the Maoists.However, the data shows increment in the abduction and number of Maoists surrendering before the security forces.

NBA calls meeting to discuss appointments

Kathmandu Dec 30-The appointment of four ad hoc justices at the Supreme Court is drawing criticism from all walks of life.

Objecting to the appointment, Nepal Bar Association (NBA) has called a special meeting this Sunday.

The special NBA meeting will have participation by former NBA presidents, the current NBA president, senior advocates, advisors, and the chiefs and secretaries of all NBA units in Kathmandu Valley.

With the King's approval, Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel Wednesday appointed outgoing Attorney General Pawan Kumar Ojha, senior advocate Bipulendra Chakrabarti, and appellate court judges Rajendra Kumar Koirala and Tahir Ali Ansari as temporary justices of the Supreme Court for two years. Meanwhile, the human rights organizations and FNJ have termed the appointments indicative of a regime "that is frantic following court rulings in favor of the people in public interest cases, especially habeas corpus petitions".

"The beginning of appointments of supporters of the February 1 move also indicates the possibility of another undemocratic move. We have strong objection to the appointments," a joint statement issued by the organizations says. The organizations have added that such appointments are counter to the supremacy of the constitution and independence of the judiciary and will reduce the judiciary to the status of a mere appendage of the executive.
12 human rights groups, the Federation of Nepalese Journalists and two rights activists have issued a statement expressing their serious objection to the appointments.

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SC Judges Appointments Criticised

Kathmandu, Dec 30-Human rights organisations and activists expressed serious doubts over the independence of the judiciary .They criticised Wednesday's appointment of four ad hoc judges at the Supreme Court claiming that the autocratic royal regime has started to interfere in the independent judiciary.

With the consent of the King, Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel, appointed former Attorney General Prof Pawan Kumar Ojha, two acting chief judges of Appellate Courts Tahir Ali Ansari and Rajendra Prasad Koirala and senior advocate Bipulendra Chakravarti as the ad hoc judges in the Supreme Court.

Ojha had been controversial after he supported the February 1 royal takeover in the apex court and claimed that the King has authority to issue any kind of order by activating Article 127 of the Constitution. He had also claimed that the King has the power to issue any order, with the capacity of the Hindu Monarch, to protect the country.Senior Advocate Chakrabarti is the close relative of king-nominated regional administrator, Rabindra Chakrabarti. The government has already appointed Senior Advocate Laxmi Bahadur Nirala as Ojha’s successor. Nirala was the chief of the civic committee formed to felicitate King Gyanendr in Janakpur last year.Judge Koirala’s decision, as an appellate court judge, on a Gold Quest Scandal was later on reversed by the supreme court. He had acquitted the main accused Filipino national, who immediately fled the county.

In a press release, human rights activists including two former members of the National Human Rights Commission Sushil Pyakurel and Prof Kapil Shrestha have urged the Supreme Court leadership to protect the supremacy of the Constitution as well as the independence of the judiciary.

In a joint statement, Subodh Pyakurel from the Informal Sector Service Centre, INHURED International Nepal's Dr Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, Mandira Sharma from Advocacy Forum, Dr Bhogendra Sharma from the Centre for Victims of Torture and Human Rights Nepal's Charan Prasain criticised the appointments.

Nepal Bar Association (NBA), the umbrella organization of the lawyers, has said the appointment of those who have been supporting publicly the February 1 move and “unconstitutional” activities of the present regime in the Supreme Court will be unacceptable. Making its protest public, the NBA in a statement issued said that appointments of pro-palace people as lawyers would be unacceptable to it. NBA also warned that the Judicial Council will be responsible for any consequences if the latter ignores its concerns over the appointment of judges."With these appointments, it seems it may lead the judiciary to be a branch of the executive led by the King," the statement reads.They also expressed solidarity to support the movement of the Nepal Bar Association to oppose an attack on the independent of the judiciary.The NBA has said that it would hold a meeting to discuss on the appointments and to decide protest programmes against them.

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Thursday, December 29, 2005

EC Sets Up Polling Offices

Kathmandu Dec 29-Election Commission (EC) has stepped up preparations for the municipal polls scheduled for February 8 by set up Election Offices . EC has nominated Chief District Officers as Election Officers of the respective districts and is providing necessary training to them.

Forty three out of the 75 districts have municipal bodies in Nepal. The EC is holding elections for over 4000 municipal seats in which some 1.9 billion voters will exercise their franchise. EC is planning to install more than 1300 polling booths in municipalities nationwide.

Election offices have been set up at Kathmandu and Kirtipur at their respective municipal offices. Feb 8 elections would elect 274 municipal posts including Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Ward Chairperson, Ward Members and the Women Ward Members in Kathmandu Metropolitan City and the Kirtipur Municipality alone.

Out of the total local body posts in the two municipalities, Kathmandu Metropolitan City has 177 posts and Kirtipur Municipality 97.

Elections in 53 municipalities, a metropolis and four sub-metropolises are scheduled for February 8, in a gap of eight years.

In February this year, King Gyanendra assumed direct power through a bloodless coup, promising to combat the escalating communist insurgency and corruption.

After the civic elections, the king has announced general elections by April 2007.

Seven major parliamentary parties, who won over 90 percent seats in the last general elections, have said they would boycott the polls and conduct a peaceful campaign urging people not to vote.

Top Maoist leaders Prachanda and Dr Baburam Bhattarai recently issued a statement from the hiding, announcing a week-long nationwide bandh (shutdown) from Feb 5 and take "action" against poll officials and contestants.

Home Minister Kamal Thapa has said the government will go ahead with the polls as per schedule and security has been beefed up.

Main while ,Authorities in Nepal have decided to provide insurance cover for officials posted for the purpose of holding municipal elections in February, a report said Thursday.The Election Commission will provide insurance up to Nepali Rs.700,000 to poll officials in case of "accidental deaths", the Himalayan Times reported.

Narendra Dahal, chief district officer of Morang in south-eastern Nepal, who is also the officiating district election officer, said the gazetted employees involved in the Feb 8 polls would be ensured for Nepali Rs.700,000 and the non-gazetted staff would get Nepali Rs.500,000 each in case of sustaining injuries or death while on poll duty.

The decision, which is yet to be officially confirmed, comes after the Maoist threat to disrupt the municipal elections and to take action against contestants as well as officials.
SC Summons in Contempt Case

Kathmandu, Dec 29-The Supreme Court today ordered the then Minister for Information and Communication Tanka Dhakal to be present in person before the court within 15 days in connection with a contempt-of-court plea against him.

The court asked the former information minister, who is currently the Minister for Local Development, to be present in a contempt-of-court case filed by advocate Ananda Santoshi Rai.
The single bench of justice Damodar Prasad Sharma also asked the secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communication Kumar Prasad Poudel to be present in person before the court within 15 days in connection with the same case.

The contempt-of-court plea was filed after the government ordered the Radio Sagarmatha not to broadcast news programmes and transmit BBC Nepali news even after the SC stay order not to do so.

The petitioners have claimed the government order was a contempt of court, which had stayed the government action against the FM radio station following the government raid and seizure of transmission equipment of the station few weeks ago.

Families of disappeared people lock up NHRC

Kathmandu, Dec 29- Family members of disappeared people by the state locked up the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) office for five hours on Thursday to pressurize the NHRC to speed-up search process to find the whereabouts of disappeared people.

They locked the NHRC from early 8 a.m. in the morning to 1 p.m. in the afternoon before the commission officials ask them to sit for the dialogue.

The officials of the NHRC assured them of full cooperation to find the whereabouts of the disappeared people.

The relatives accused the commission of failing to make public the status of the disappeared people by the state even though they have knocked the doors of the commission time and again for the same.

Following the lock-out during the early office hours, all the commission officials and staffers could not enter the office. The commission also postponed presentation of a report, which was scheduled to take place today, for tomorrow due to the lock-out.
Around 848 citizens are reportedly “disappeared” by the state since the beginning of the Maoist conflict in the country a decade ago.

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Rally demands law reforms to protect women

Kathmandu, Dec 29: The Forum for Women Law and Development (FWLD) organised a rally in Parasi Wednesday demanding for the amendment of the discriminatory legal provisions against women relating to the issuance of citizenship certificates.
The rally was aimed at pressurising the concerned authorities to amend the laws governing issuance of citizenship to women.The FWLD organised the rally jointly with the Women Rights Concern Network in Nawalparasi as a follow up of the district conference on the issue of citizenship held two months back, a press release issued FWLD said.
After the holding of the conference, the organisers had collected the signatures of people in the district demanding to put an end to the discriminatory laws on citizenship. They had submitted the signatures to the district administration office drawing the attention of the government towards the issue.
Order issue in Hotel Yak and Yeti strike case

Kathmandu, Dec 29-The Supreme Court on wednesday ordered the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management, the management of Hotel Yak and Yeti and its staffers Trade Union to attend a hearing next Wednesday before the apex court to decide whether or not to issue a stay order as demanded by the hotel management.

The SC ordered the Ministry and both the parties in the case to discuss over the demand of the hotel management which had filed a writ petition seeking the SC’s stay order to call off the strike. Following a initial hearing today, a single bench of justice Badri Kumar Basnet, issued the order. The bench also ordered the defendants to submit written explanations about the recent row between the management and the trade union within 15 days. The bench also issued the same order to ‘the arbitrators’ to clarify the issue.

Advocates Mithilish Kumar Singh and Komal Prakash Ghimire pleaded on behalf of the hotel management and sought the SC’s stay order on the issue, arguing that the hotel staffers have no right to launch such a strike as the Essential Services Act ‘prohibits’ such a strike call.The corporate advisor of the Hotel, Mahesh Lal Mishra, filed a writ petition on Monday seeking the SC’s intervention in the issue, claiming that the decision of the arbitrators could not be implemented due to the ‘weak economic condition’ of the hotel.

The petitioner claimed that the Hotel cannot implement the recommendations of the arbitrators formed under the chairmanship of joint government attorney Raj Narayan Pathak. The arbitrators had recommended the hotel to provide at least six per cent annual increment in salaries of the staffers and other types of benefits.
State Blamed for 119 Disappearances after Conflict in Nepal

Kathmandu, Dec 29-The organisation of the families of disappeared people during conflict has demanded the government to disclose facts of their disappeared relatives.

Organising a press conference in the capital on Wednesday, the organisation informed that they had also handed over a memorandum to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan on December 10.

The organisation has formed a three-member team to keep an account of those disappeared by the State and the Maoists. ”We have so far completed four phases of keeping the account of people in a state of disappearance,” Bhim Bahadur Basnet of the team said.

The report prepared by the team states that a total of 119 people, including 70 from the Kathmandu Valley, have been disappeared by the State so far.

Mainwhile,“During the field inspection, we found that 84 people were killed during the truce at the hands of both the government and Maoists,” Sudip Pathak, a member of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said the residence of Nepali Congress General Secretary KB Gurung was still locked up by the Maoists. he said.

National Human Rights Commission of Nepal is holding talks with “responsible people” from both the government and Maoist sides to facilitate dialogue to restore peace in the country, he disclosed here on Wednesday.

Pathak, told that talks were on between the Commission and “responsible people ” from both the sides, and that the NHRC may soon receive an audience with His Majesty the King to deliberate on the Maoist crisis.

He accused the Maoist insurgents of continuing to violate human rights even during the four months of truce that they declared unilaterally. “Though the period remained non-violent, there was a massive increase in cases of abductions and extortions,” Pathak said, adding that displaced people were not able to return home during ceasefire .

The NHRC is releasing its report of the field inspection of the Maoist-affected areas on Thursday.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

King appoints four judges at Supreme Court

Kathmandu Dec 28- His Majesty King Gyanendra has at the recommendation of the Judicial Council appointed four persons to the vacant posts of justices at the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court Wednesday said the King appointed Baglung Appellate Court judge Tahir Ali Ansari, Rajendra Prasad Koirala, acting chief judge at the Appellate Court in Butwal, former Attorney General Pawan Kumar Ojha and senior advocate Bipulendra Chakrawarti in the vacant posts.

With this appointment, the number of justices at the apex court has reached 25 including the Chief Justice.

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RNA start internal charged

Kathmandu Dec 28-Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) has kept 25 soldiers under custody on charge of allowing soldier Basudev Thapa to go out of the barrack with arms and ammunition on December 14 night Jana Astha weekly reports. according weekly, Rajendra Shrestha, Rajkumar Shahi, Yadav Shrestha, Dharma Waiba, Ajay Nakarmi, Dhamendra lama and Sudip are among those, who are kept in custody.

Though locals and Human Rights Campaigners casted doubt that Thapa alone killed a large number of people, RNA said that Thapa opened indiscriminate firing, killed 12 civilians and got killed himself at Kalidevi temple of Nagarkot, Bhaktapur following his brawl with a group of locals on December 14 night.

The weekly, quoting sources at the Royal Nepalese Army, said that Thapa opened 45 rounds of fire at the locals, who were enjoying local Fare.

few days before The Royal Nepalese Army’s probe committee has submitted its investigation report on the Nagarkot carnage to the Chief of the RNA Legal Department, Brigadier General BA Kumar Sharma.

The government and the Royal Nepalese Army have formed separate team to probe into the incident. RNA probe team has already submitted the report whereas the government team is yet to submit the report.

Order against Space Time

Kathmandu, Dec 28 - Patan Appellate Court on Tuesday issued an interim order to Space Time Network Pvt Ltd against broadcasting Star Package channels through illegal diversion of signals.
With this order, broadcasting of all channels of the Star Package by Space Time Network has been halted.

Space Time has been accused of broadcasting these channels for the past few weeks through illegal signal diversion.

The channels which the court order bars Space Time from broadcasting include Star Plus, National Geographic, History, Star World, Star Movies, Star Gold, Channel V and Star News.
A case was filed at the court by Univision Co Pvt Ltd on December 15 seeking an order to halt signal diversion and illegal broadcast by SpaceTime.

"Do not broadcast the channels by illegally diverting signals," states the court order.

Both cable operators and users had been criticizing the illegal diversion of signals. "Due to such an act, consumers were put at a disadvantage," said Prem Lal Maharjan, general secretary of Nepal Consumers' Forum. "Such an act is against the interests of the government and consumers and against business ethics. Businesses should be run through fair competition," said Manraja Ranjit, president of Nepal Cable Television Associations.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Deny NBA statement Judges Appointed

Kathmandu, Dec 27-The Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel today appointed four ad hoc justices of the Supreme Court, according to acting registrar of the SC Ram Krishna Timilsena.

Among those appointed as the SC ad hoc justices are Tahir Ali Ansari and Rajendra Prasad Koirala from among the appellate court judges and Bipulendra Chakraworti and Professor Pawan Kumar Ojha from among the senior advocates.

The Chief Justice appointed them in the posts on recommendation of the Judicial Council and the approval of the King.

Yesterday Nepal Bar Association (NBA), the umbrella organization of the lawyers, has said the appointment of those who have been supporting publicly the February 1 move and “unconstitutional” activities of the present regime in the Supreme Court will be unacceptable. Making its protest public, the NBA in a statement issued today said that appointments of pro-palace people as lawyers would be unacceptable to it. NBA also warned that the Judicial Council will be responsible for any consequences if the latter ignores its concerns over the appointment of judges.

Ojha, as the Attorney General, defended king’s “unconstitutional” decisions, including the constitution of the controversial Royal Commission for Corruption Control. Senior Advocate Chakrabarti is the close relative of king-nominated regional administrator, Rabindra Chakrabarti. The government has already appointed Senior Advocate Laxmi Bahadur Nirala as Ojha’s successor. Nirala was the chief of the civic committee formed to felicitate King Gyanendr in Janakpur last year.

Judge Koirala’s decision, as an appellate court judge, on a Gold Quest Scandal was later on reversed by the supreme court. He had acquitted the main accused Filipino national, who immediately fled the county.

“The appointment of persons, who are against the supremacy of the constitution and who have been publicly supporting the government’s activities and decisions that have curtailed the fundamental rights of the people, that have narrowed down the jurisdiction of the independent judiciary and the constitutional bodies, as judges is unacceptable to NBA,” a statement undersigned by NBA General Secretary Madhav Basnet said. He added: “Such persons cannot defend the supremacy of the constitution and defend the dignity of an independent judiciary.”

I will obey constitution and laws : New AG

Kathmandu, Dec 27-The newly appointed Attorney General, Laxmi Bahadur Nirala, on monday said that he would not do anything against the 1990 Constitution and other existing laws of the nation.

“I will not go beyond the parameters of the constitution and laws,” Nirala told journalists after King Gyanendra administered him the oath of office and secrecy at the Royal Palace this evening.

The senior advocate turned Attorney General claimed that he did not defend the King unconstitutionally while defending the controversial Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) in the Supreme Court.

He said no one could question the King’s actions. Nirala had defended the formation of the RCCC by the King and claimed that the RCCC was formed within the constitutional parameters.

Directing his colleagues, Nirala asked them to perform under the constitution and laws and not to be influenced by anyone. “Work smoothly under legal limits,” he said.

Senior officials of the Office of the Attorney General welcomed him when he went there to take charge of his office.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Nepal Bar expresses concerns about selection of Justices

Kathmandu Dec 26-Nepal Bar Association (NBA) has expressed concerns over selection of judges to the vacant seats of Justices at various courts in the country, saying that it would not accept appointment of individuals who have worked against the supremacy of Constitution.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Association said, “NBA will not accept any appointment of people -- who have been defending the government’s act of controlling fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution and have expressed their views against the jurisdiction of independent Judiciary-- to the prestigious posts of Justice or judges.”

The Association also warned that Judicial Council, the leadership of the Judiciary, itself would be held solely responsible for any such decision taken to appoint such types of persons in the prestigious posts it was, however, not clear what led the Association to issue such a statement. Meanwhile, sources said the NBA move seems to be aiming at stopping the appointment of lawyers or former government attorneys who have been defending the royal takeover of February 1, this year or the controversial Royal Commission on Corruption Control (RCCC) in the Supreme Courtfor the vacant post of Justices to the apex court.

According to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990, His Majesty appoints Justices and Judges to the Supreme Court and Lower Courts upon the recommendation of a five-member Judicial Council headed by Chief Justice. Other members of the Council include two seniormost Justices at the Supreme Court, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary affairs and a member appointed by His Majesty.

The NBA that is in the forefront of defending fundamental rights of the people has called the royal takeover as “unconstitutional” and has urged His Majesty King Gyanendra to give up the chairmanship of the Council of Ministers.

Stay Order on NGO Code Case Continues

Kathmandu Dec 26-The Supreme Court on Monday gave continuity to its order asking the government not to implement the controversial Code of Conduct for the NGOs until it receives written response from the authorities.

The court had ordered the government authorities a month ago not to implement the code and furnish written explanation on why they needed to introduce the code of conduct for the NGOs.
With this ruling, the government can now implement the code from the day it furnishes reply to the court till the day the court gives a final verdict on the case. However, the court has put the case on priority for final hearing.

The Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and the Social Welfare Council are defendants in the case.

Upon conclusion of hearing on a writ petition filed by a number of NGOs including the NGO Federation of Nepal, a special bench of the apex court, comprising Justices Sharada Shrestha, Harijung Sijapati and Tapa Bahadur Magar, decided to continue the interim order delivered by the court last month “as it was yet to receive written response from some of the defendants.”Though the authorities normally submit their written replies within 15 days they have the legal right to submit such replies within 51 days.

On Nov. 23, a single bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Paramananda Jha had ordered the government to stay the implementation of the code of conduct for non-governmental organisations as well as the ordinance promulgated for amending the Social Welfare Council Act.

NGOs had filed the case against the controversial code on November 21.

Political parties, several national and international development agencies and human rights groups have already denounced the code of conduct saying that it aims to control the activities of the non-governmental organisations.

However, the government has said the code was enforced to make the NGO sector more dignified and transparent.

Nirala become new attorney general

Kathmandu Dec 26-The King has, in accordance with the constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 1990, appointed senior advocate Laxmi Bahadur Nirala the attorney General of the Kingdom of Nepal.

This was stated in a notice issued Sunday by the Press Secretariat of His Majesty the King.
Janakpur based senior advocate Nirala, who had actively advocated in favor of panchyati regime, was appointed for the post.

He was one of the members appointed by the government during pro-democracy movement of 1990 to disseminate message in favour of Panchyati regime in Europe.

The King has, in accordance with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990, accepted the resignation submitted before His Majesty by Attorney General Prof. Pawan Kumar Ojha from the post of Attorney General.

Professor Ojha, who was appointed for the post following the February 1 royal takeover, resigned from his post all of sudden.

Pleading on behalf of the Government in a case of controversial Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) Ojha said that all the orders issued by the king are constitutional, since he is a devotee of Hindu religion and the constitution has given him special responsibility.
Ojha also said that the apex court in Pakistan had passed a verdict in favor of President Pervez Musharraf in the latter's bid to amend the constitution and asked the Supreme Court to pass a similar verdict in a case of RCCC.

Ojha’s resignation has come at a time when the Sureme Court is preparing to appoint temporary justices in the posts of vacant justices of the Supreme Court
CJ appoints

Kathmandu , Dec. 26: Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel has appointed former Supreme Court judge, Top Bahadur Singh, Executive Director of the National Judicial Academy for a period of two years.

Singh has been appointed on the recommendation of the Judicial Council and in accordance with the National Judicial Academy Ordinance, 2005, according to the Supreme Court.

The academy has been established with the objective of enhancing the efficiency of professional capability of the judges, employees and legal professionals working in the judiciary and carrying out study and research in the legal and judicial sector.

RNA panel submits report on Nagarkot incident

Kathmandu, Dec 25 -The Royal Nepalese Army’s probe committee has submitted its investigation report on the Nagarkot carnage to the Chief of the RNA Legal Department, Brigadier General BA Kumar Sharma.

“The committee submitted the report to the duty staff at Legal Department yesterday though it was a weekly off,” a senior RNA officer at the Legal Department told The Himalayan Times. December 24 was the deadline for the committee to submit the report.

The Department’s Chief Brig Gen Sharma is studying the report, the RNA officer said. If Brig Gen Sharma finds anything lacking in the report, he will ask the committee to furnish such information before he forwards the report to the higher authority at the RNA headquarters.

When asked about the information in the report, the officer couldn’t elaborate. When officials at the Directorate of Public Relation of RNA were contacted, they could say nothing about the report. However, the Legal Department’s Chief Brig Gen Sharma confirmed that he has already received the report. “Yes, I am studying the report and the details will be in people’s hand within a few days,” said Brig Gen Sharma.The five-member RNA probe panel, headed by Brigadier General Netra Bahadur Thapa had been formed immediately after the incident. Earlier, the team had been given three days to submit the report, but later the deadline was extended.

Main while, the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) on Sunday said it was concerned over various ‘unsubstantiated’ media reports.

Issuing a statement, the RNA’s Directorate of Public Relations (DPR) said, “A high-level investigation committee is investigating into the unfortunate event to bring out the facts behind the incident. Against this background, the Directorate of Public Relations regrets the publishing of uncorroborated news reports, which could influence and hinder the work of the investigation committee.”

The RNA also appealed to the media to exercise restraint and not to publish ‘unsubstantiated’ information, which could directly or indirectly influence the committee’s investigation.

A separate team of the RNA is also probing the incident that has drawn nationwide protests However, A three-member judicial committee under former Supreme Court Justice Top Bahadur Singh is investigating into the killings. The committee’s deadline for submitting its report to the government was extended by 10 days on Friday after the initial timeframe came to an end.

More homework needed for SAFTA : Experts

Kathmandu, Dec 25 - Participants of a program have said that the implementation of the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement will help Nepal to boost its trade with South Asian countries. They also strongly urged the government for serious homework as the implementation of South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) nears. It will be implemented from January 1, 2006.

Speaking at an interaction in the capital on Sunday, they said Nepal has to identify the goods of comparative advantage to penetrate the regional market.

Rajesh Kaji Shrestha, assistant minister for industry, commerce and supplies speaking at a programme on ‘SAFTA implementation: How beneficial for Nepal’, organised by the Management Association of Nepal (MAN)-MDC and Media for Economic and Social Awareness (MESA) expressed his commitment to carry out extensive exercise in coordination with the concerned stakeholders to exploit tremendous trade potentials from the regional markets.“If we could increase economic opportunities across the country, it may help restore peace as more people will be engaged in income generating activities,” he hoped. Shrestha also said that the government would take initiatives to bring a guide-book that will help in understanding the nitty-gritty of SAFTA. “Cashing in on emerging market opportunities is the need of the hour,” he added.

In his presentation, Prachanda Man Shrestha, joint-secretary at the ministry of industry, commerce and supply (MOICS), said that finalization of the SAFTA accord has given a message that economic agendas are also getting priority in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

He informed that as per the SAFTA agreement, developing countries will bring down their customs tariff to 20 percent while Least Developed Countries (LDCs) countries will bring it down to 30 percent during the first phase between 2006-2008. Non-LDC nations will bring down tariff level to between 0 and 5 percent by 2009 while LDC nations will do so by 2016.
He informed that all seven member countries have their own lists of sensitive goods and which will be reviewed every four years to help create confidence among the trading partners and boost intra regional trade.

Commenting on the presentation, Prof Bishwambher Pyakuryal, president of the Nepal Economic Association (NEA), suggested the government to work out on ‘revenue compensation mechanisms’ to prepare Nepal to be economically competitive. He stressed on creating sub-regional grouping between Least Develeoped Countries (LDCs) to benefit from the regional free trade regime.

“Meanwhile, there is a need for private sector and the government to work jointly and effectively,” he said suggesting that the complimentary products within the countries should be identified to benefit from SAFTA.

Chairman of Management Association of Nepal-Management Development Centre, Dr Bimal Koirala, said that all should concentrate to develop competitive strengths of our products to maximise advantages from the regional trading agreement

Sunday, December 25, 2005

New Education Act Needed : PABSON

Biratnagar, Dec 25-Private and Boarding Schools’ Organisation Nepal (PABSON) has pointed out the need for a new Education Act that will address the problems of private schools.

Announcing the decision of the second full-bench meeting of PABSON at a press conference Umesh Shrestha, president of the Private and Boarding Schools’ Organisation Nepal, accused the government of not cooperating with the private schools.

In a press statement, PABSON said the Education Act (seventh amendment), 2058 BS and Education Directives, 2058 BS did not clearly mention the fee structure of the private schools. “Categorisation of schools not only divides the learning zones but also the students, teachers, guardians and the whole society,” the statement said.

“There are two committees Board of Directors and School Management Committees in the schools which are associated with company and trusts respectively. This will create confusion.”

Stating that the private schools are playing a vital role in the development of education in the country, Shrestha said: “Private schools are facing difficulties due to the Maoists and the government.”

PABSON’s central committee has also decided to publish textbooks with an aim to help in the academic development. About 1,500,000 students are studying in 8,500 private schools in Nepal. Private schools are providing employment opportunities to about 150,000 people.

mainwhile,The dearth of teachers holding permanent teaching licence, the mandatory provision to be a school teacher in the country, is expected to come to an end soon.

The schools had to face scarcity of licence holding teachers in the gone days, said Mahashram Sharma, administrative chief at the Teachers’ Service Commission (TSC). “With the results of the licensing exams published by the TSC recently, the problem will come to an end,” he added.

According to the TSC, the permanent teaching licence is compulsory to each teacher who teaches whether in the public schools or in the private ones as per the existing Education Act, which was enacted eight years ago.

The candidates who have completed at least one-year course from the Faculty of Education or have one-year teaching experience or working as teachers are eligible to sit for the licensing exams.

Immediately after the introduction of the Act, the TSC issued temporary teaching licence to the prospective candidates. The Commission has started issuing permanent teaching licence since 2004. Last year, some 123,200 candidates passed the licensing exams. Women were allowed to take the exams although they didn’t have any experience and degree from the Faculty of Education.

A total of 325,000 candidates, including the recent pass outs and 80,000 permanent public school teachers, have received the permanent licence. “Among 129,825 examinees this year alone, 104,588 have got through the tests,” said Sharma. “Seventy-four per cent candidates of the primary level, 88 per cent of the lower secondary and 93 per cent of the secondary level have passed the exams,” he said.

The government introduced the licensing tests as a screening tool in order to promote the quality of education in the schools. The candidates who do not own a teaching licence are not allowed to take the TSC exams for the permanent positions in the public schools.

However, the disparity in the results of the School Leaving Certificate examinations between the public and private schools still looms large. The pass percentage is 20 per cent in state-owned schools where 50 per cent teachers are trained and 80 per cent in private ones.

There are some 110,000 teachers, 80,000 permanent ones, teaching in approximately 27,000 public schools with six million student enrolment. Besides, more than 60,000 teachers are involved in about 8,500 private schools with 1.5 million students.

“Almost all the teachers in the public schools have been issued the teaching licence,” Sharma said. “There will be no scarcity of licence holders even for the private schools.”

Karna Bahadur Shahi, general secretary of the National Private and Boarding Schools’ Association Nepal, said that more than 70 per cent teachers working in the private schools are licence holders.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

CIAA indicts rural bank employees
Kathmandu, Dec. 24- The Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse Authority (CIAA) filed a charge sheet at the Special Court against two employees of Babiya Branch of Purbanchal Grameen (Rural) Development Bank.
Field assistants of the Bank Prem Prasad Koirala and Motilal Chaudhary were found involved in irregularities while issuing loans totaling Rs. 1.22 million from the office creating a fake document and details, a press statement of the CIAA said.The CIAA investigation found that they had destroyed documents like balance book, registers, and ledgers with an ill intention, the press statement said.
Meanwhile, the Commission has written to the Bank authority to caution Manoj Kumar Chapagai, the then first accountant of the Bank, for not doing his duties responsibly.

Show cause notices in two PIL cases

Kathmandu Dec 24- The Supreme Court on friday issued in two different PIL cases ,show cause notices.

First show cause notice to the government authorities asking them why the government is not strictly implementing the Land Relating Act 2001 and its fifth amendment 2058 BS.

single bench of justice Paramananda Jha issued the order responding to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocates Bharatmani Gautam and Thagendra Shrestha, seeking its order to the government to strictly implement the land ceiling and distribute land to the landless people by seizing land from the land lords whose land holding crosses the ceiling.

The bench ordered the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet, the Ministry of Land Reform and Management, the Department of Land Reform and Land Reform Offices of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur Districts to submit their explanations within 15 days.

The advocate-duo filed the PIL representing the an NGO Rule of Law Protection Society and has sought the apex court’s order to the authorities to redistribute land to the ex-Kamaiyas, landless people, Dalit and indigenous people by implementing the Act.

Same as The Supreme Court issued another show cause notices to the government authorities, including the Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, the Ministry of Environment and Population and the Ministry of Agriculture, to explain within 15 days as to why they were dumping pesticide in a haphazard manner.

A group of NGOs working in the environment sector, including the Pro Public and Pesticide Victims’ Association, in a public interest litigation (PIL) filed at the court a few days ago, demanded that the court direct the authorities either to send the pesticide back to the country from where it had been imported or call on the government to dump it safely.

According to the petitioners, 75 tons of pesticide has been haphazardly dumped in the country.Fifty tons of pesticide was dumped in Amlekhgung depot near the Nepal Secondary School in Bara district, the petitioners said, adding that the dump had exposed the students to health risk.

The government has been haphazardly dumping pesticide in 24 depots in Khumaltar, Biratnagar, Hetaunda, Lumle, Birjung, Janakpur, Surkhet and Banke. A study conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Population had stated that harmful chemicals dumped in these were threatening the environment and causing health hazards to the locals.

The umbrella organisation of the insect repellent producer companies, Crop Life International, had told the government through its ambassador to Belgium, Kedar Bhakta Shrestha, that it is ready to take back the pesticide, but there was no word from the government.
Present situation is hostile :former justice

Damak, Dec 24-Human rights activists have been suffering the most at present, an ex-judge of the supreme court, Laxman Prasad Aryal, has said.

He was speaking at a two-day eastern regional council meeting of the Nepal Human Rights Organisation, which kicked off on friday Comparing the current situation with the Panchayat era, he said: “Like the Panchayat era, present situation is hostile for the rights activists.”
During the Panchayat era, ministers used to be appointed with the King’s blessing, he said, adding that the practice had been given continuity.

People are frightened to think of the break of the ceasefire, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, Sudip Pathak, said, calling on the Maoists to continue truce.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Work for Judicial independence: CJ

Kathmandu, December 23-Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel has called on lawyers, the Nepal Bar Association and the commoners to help main-tain the independence of the judiciary.

“Only an independent judiciary can protect the rights of the people,” he said, calling on everyone to help protect the independence of the judiciary.

“Since the law plays a major role for the development of society, everybody should respect law and work for the protection of the rule of law,” Paudel said, adding that lawyers can play a crucial to create an environment where law is respected.

Speaking at a programme organised here today to mark the golden jubilee of the Nepal Bar Association, he said, “The Constitution has given the judiciary the power to protect the rights of the people.”

The independence of the judiciary can be maintained by improving the relations between the bar and the bench, he said.

Chief of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal, Ian Martin, said that the rule of law and court orders have been undermined by the executives in the recent past and currently. Lawyers’ role in providing justice would be seen only when there is an independent, impartial and competent judiciary, he said.

“Lawyers who show integrity and competence in their work are instrumental in ensuring that the judiciary too meets the highest standards of integrity and competence in providing justice and protecting the rights of the people,” Martin added.

He expressed serious concern over the rearrest of people from the Supreme Court premises even after their release on habeas corpus cases. The recently re-promulgated Terrorists and Disruptive Activities Control and Punishment Ordinance (TADO) is inconsistence with the international rights laws signed by the government, he said.
Need Constituent Assembly : Daman Nath Dhungana

Pokhara Dec 23 -Former Speaker and senior advocate Daman Nath Dhungana said on Thursday that the current crisis could be resolved only through Constituent Assembly (CA) elections under a ceremonial monarchy.

Speaking at a programme to mark the golden jubilee of Appellate Court Bar Association in Pokhara, Dhungana said the problem faced by the country could not be solved without election to a constituent assembly.

He said that the political parties, the Maoists and the people in general should decide the status of the king. “The King should remain only as a ceremonial monarch,” he added.

One of the drafters of the present Constitution, Dhungana said one should not refrain from Constituent Assembly just because it is the demand of the Maoists. “Political parties raised this agenda in 1950,” he said, adding that the role of all the political forces should be clear in the Constituent Assembly.

However, he said that the role of the Army should be first made clear before going for Constituent Assembly, otherwise the people may again need “to fight against the Army as well for democracy.”

Asserting that it was not right to tell the Maoists to give up arms at the moment, he said the rebels in any country gave up arms only after a political settlement.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

OHCHR writes to Singh Commission on probe methods

Kathmandu Dec 22-The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has written to former Justice Top Bahadur Singh, the chairman of the Inquiry Commission on the Nagarkot killings, welcoming the formation of the probe panel and highlighting international standards as benchmarks of investigation of such incidents.

“We hope the establishment of the Commission signals the commitment of His Majesty’s Government to ensure a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation into the shootings,” a press release issued by the OHCHR said, citing a letter sent to the Commission chairman by Ian Martin, the OHCHR representative in Nepal.

The release further stated, “The OHCHR is mandated by agreement with His Majesty’s Government to monitor and report on the situation of human rights and observance of international humanitarian law in Nepal and engage all relevant actors for the purpose of ensuring the observance of relevant international human rights and humanitarian law.”

In his letter to Justice Top Bahadur Singh, Martin noted that the OHCHR has closely followed the developments, saying, “We have been particularly concerned that all evidence, including the scene of the shootings, was apparently not properly conserved, which will make a thorough investigation by the Commission more difficult.”

He highlighted the importance of the UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions which contain relevant international standards to guide the Commission’s work. These include the impartiality and independence of members of the Commission, and that the Commission has the authority to obtain all information necessary to the inquiry, the statement read.

The government had constituted the three-member commission under former Justice Singh on December 15 to investigate into the horrendous killing of 12 civilians by a frenzied army man during a fair at Kali Devi temple at Chihandada in Nagarkot on the night of December 14.

The OHCHR representative’s letter also highlighted six more principles, including that complainants, witnesses and those conducting the investigation shall be protected from violence or any other form of intimidation, and that families of the deceased and their legal representatives shall be informed and should have access to any hearing as well as to all information relevant to the investigation, and shall be entitled to present other evidence.

“The Principles also set out that the investigation should determine, among other things, any pattern or practice which may have brought about the deaths, and that the Government shall, within a reasonable period of time, either reply to the report of the investigation, or indicate the steps to be taken in response to it.”

Martin concluded that OHCHR would remain actively engaged in monitoring the course of the investigations and was ready to provide assistance to the Commission regarding applicable international human rights standards and practice as well as in regard to the Commission’s need for necessary forensics and other technical resources.

Golden jubilee of NBA

Kathmandu Dec 22-The Nepal Bar Association (NBA), an umbrella organisation of legal professionals, is celebrating its golden jubilee with much fanfare.

NBA was established in December 21st 1956. Presently, more than 10,000 lawyers are organized under 82 bar units all over the country.

NBA has been fighting for an independent and impartial judiciary at a time when the country is passing through a difficult situation and been in forefront to protect the rule of law, sovereignty of the people and their fundamental rights.

On the eve of golden jubilee, the NBA organized a reception at Birendra International Convention Centre on Wednesday.

Chief Justice, officials of the constitutional bodies, leaders and cadres of political parties, officials of the diplomatic missions and journalists were present on the occasion.

However other government officials were not present on the occasion.
Attorneys’ role to fight corruption stressed

Kathmandu, Dec 21-Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Niranjan Kumar Thapa today urged the government attorneys to play a vital role in fight against corruption.

“Government attorneys should play a vital role in fighting corruption in line with the government’s commitment to fight against corruption,” he added. Thapa was speaking at a conference of the government attorneys at the Office of the Attorney General. He also added that there is an urgent need to protect the eyewitnesses.

“Government attorneys should work to control financial crimes effectively,” he added.

Attorney General Pawan Kumar Ojha called on his colleagues to develop professional skills so that they could work as a bridge between the judiciary and the government. “Unless we improve our professional skills, we cannot effectively defend the government in the courts,” Ojha said.

Deputy Attorney General Dorna Raj Regmi and Narendra Kumar Pathak also emphasised on the need to improve the attorneys’ skills. “Unless we update ourselves with time, we cannot serve our three masters the executive, the judiciary and the legislature,” Pathak said.
SC ad hoc judges ‘named’

Kathmandu, Dec 21-The Judicial Council has recently recommended three names from among the appellate court judges and lawyers for their appointment as the ad hoc judges of the Supreme Court.

According to a member of the council, which is headed by the Chief Justice, appeal court judges Tahir Ali Ansari and Rajendra Prasad Koirala and senior advocate Bipulendra Chakarvarti have been recommended for the posts of SC ad hoc judges. “We are expecting that the announcement from the King will come soon,” he said.

Despite Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel’s assurance to the Nepal Bar Association of appointing at least three lawyers as SC judges, only one name has been recommended for the same.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Court Orders DDC Not to Obstruct Bar Function

Nepalgunj, Dec 21-The Nepalgunj Appellate Court on Tuesday issued an interim order to the district development committee (DDC), Banke, not to obstruct a mid-west regional golden jubilee function of the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) scheduled for Thursday. A single bench of justice Jagnath Pathak issued the order to the DDC not to obstruct the programme to be held in the DDC premises.

The NBA unit of the Appellate Court had submitted an application to the DDC on December 6 to provide its hall for the programme. The NBA had also paid the rent of the hall - Rs 1,000 - on Sunday. However, the DDC chairman Pashupatidayal Mishra later told the NBA unit that the hall was not free as another function to be attended by the Home Minister has been scheduled for the same day. Following this, the NBA unit had knocked the doors of the court to use the hall for the function.

The NBA Appellate Court unit along with the Nepalgunj unit and Banke district unit of the Bar body are going to host the mid-west regional golden jubilee function of the Association.
PIL seeks implementation of land ceiling

Kathmandu, December 21-A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed on tuesday in the Supreme Court seeking its order to the governmentto strictly implement the limitation on the size of landholding as per the Land Related Act 2021 and its fifth amendment in 2058 BS.

Advocates Bharatmani Gautam and Thagendra Shrestha jointly filed the case on behalf of an NGO - Rule of Law Protection Society. The petitioners have accused the government authorities including the office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, the Ministry of Land Reform and Management, the departments concerned under the ministry and the Land Reform Offices of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur Districts of not implementing the provisions of the Act that sets limits on landholding size.

The Act provides authority to government to pool the land if someone is found holding land beyond the limitation and distribute such land among landless communities like ex-Kamaiyas or use it for the uplift of Dalit, backward and indigenous communities.

Under the Act, a person can hold up to ten Bighas of land in the Terai, 25 ropanis in the Kathmandu Valley, and 70 ropanis in hilly the region. Moreover, a person can hold up to one Bigha of land in the Terai, five ropanis in the Kathmandu Valley and five ropanis in the hilly region for the purpose of building home

No question raised at Judicial Council

Kathmandu, Dec. 21: Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Niranjan Thapa has made it clear that no question regarding the constitutionality of the Royal Commission for Control of Corruption has been raised at the Judicial Council and neither any decision towards that end has been reached.

Referring to the news that appeared yesterday in a daily newspaper published from Kathmandu, Minister Thapa has said the Council had decided on August 25 to prosecute the then judge of Pyuthan District Court Birendra Kumar Karna on charges of corruption, it is stated in a statement released on tuesday.

Minister Thapa, who is also member of the Judicial Council, has expressed the hope that the media would always remain alert towards its moral responsibility of disseminating the right information

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Himal Sharma produced before Appellate Court

Kathmandu Dec 20-After his re-arrest despite a release order by the Supreme Court yesterday, the government produced Himal Sharma, former general secretary of the Maoist student wing, the All Nepal National Independent Students Union (ANNISU-R), before the Patan Appellate Court on Tuesday for hearing on a different case.

Acting on a case filed by the government accusing him of involving in ‘terrorist’ activities including in an explosion at a police post in Kathmandu, the appellate court allowed the authorities to detain Sharma for 20 days. The appellate court gave the detention order, reviewing its earlier order which allowed authorities to detain the rebel student for 25 days.

Sharma, who was arrested from Asan, Kathmandu, two-and-half-years ago, had been detained incommunicado until March this year when the government disclosed his whereabouts. He was brought to Kathmandu from Gorkha two weeks earlier.

On Monday, he was taken to the Supreme Court amidst tight security for hearing on a habeas corpus writ petition. A joint bench of Justices Kedar Prasad Giri and Tapa Bahadur Magar had ordered his release but police rearrested him from the court premises.

SC judges appointed bypassed senior

Kathmandu, Dec 20-King Gyanendra, on recommendation of the Judicial Council, monday appointed Rajendra Kumar Bhandari and Top Bahadur Magar as the justices of the SC. Bhandari and Magar were temporary justices of the SC.

The appointment has bypassed Paramananda Jha who is senior than both Bhandari and Magar. Jha has been working as a temporary justice of the SC for 15 months and was dragged into controversy after he freed a drug peddler, Dil Bahadur Gurung, on bail. An inquiry committee set up by the JC had recommended action against Jha saying he is incompetent to work as the Supreme Court judge.

“We did not recommend Jha’s name for the post of permanent justice,” a member of the JC said.
Writ files against discriminatory laws

Kathmandu, Dec 20-A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed at the Supreme Court on monday, appealing it to direct the government authorities to abolish discriminatory rules provisioned by the Marriage Registration Act and the Marriage Chapter of the Civil Code. Advocates Sapana Pradhan Malla and Meera Dhungana moved the court.

According to the Marriage Registration Act, while a boy is considered eligible for marriage when he is 22, a girl is considered eligible for marriage when she is 18. The Marriage Chapter of the Civil Code allows boys to get married at the age of 18.
Crime Watch 'Theft recorded high in a week'

Kathmandu, Dec 20-Twenty-two cases of theft were recorded at the Kathmandu District Police Office (KDPO) last week (December 7-15).Pointing at the rise in the number of theft cases in the district of Kathmandu, Khadga Khatri, said looters might have resorted to petty thefts Himalaya times reports.

According to the KDPO, five cases were reported on December 15, and four on December 14. Likewise, three cases of theft were reported on December 13 and five on December 12.

Khatri said four shops were reported looted in Old Baneshwor on December 11. While no reports of theft were received on December 10 and 9, a house in Bijulibajar was burgled on December 8 and a mobile repairing shop on December 7.

Same as,Police have arrested members of a gang involved in mugging tourists and looting cash and goods from them in the jungles of Sarangkot and Pumdibhumdi area of Kaski.

The men were arrested on December 9, the District Police Office (DPO), Kaski, said at a press conference organised here today.The arrested include Tsering Punchowk Lama, Sondruk Gurung, Sana Singh Gurung,Jit Maan Gurung and Lal Bahadur Karki.All the five hail from Gorkha district, police said.

The gang had for the past couple of months been looting cash and other valuables, including cameras from tourists visiting Sarangkot and the Baudha Stupa areas of Pokhara.

The DPO had mobilised a five-member team of security personnel in the area to nab the gang.
Plainclothes security personnel arrested two of the gang members on December 9 as they were looting a tourist. Three other members were arrested with the help of information given by the arrested duo, the DPO said.

Police have also arrested some persons buying stolen cameras from them.The arrested looters said they sold the stolen cameras for anything between Rs 500 and 2,000. The men were working as porters and trekking guides.

Superintendent of Police, Rabi Raj Shrestha, said security personnel were deployed after the District Police Office received complaints from tourists. The arrested will be charged of robbery and theft, police said.Five security personnel who arrested the gang members will be awarded Rs 1,000 each, the DPO said.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pro-Maoist student leader re-arrested from the court

Kathmandu Dec 19-Police have re-arrested former general secretary of pro-Maoist student organization, ANNFSU (Revolutionary) from the Supreme Court premises on Monday immediately after the court’s verdict for his release.

In response to a habeas corpus writ petition filed by Sharma’s family members, a division bench comprising Justices Kedar Prasad Giri and Tapa Bahadur Magar ordered immediate release of Sharma.

Police, however, intervened as Sharma was leaving the apex court premises along with his family members in a taxi. There was a scuffle between police and rights activists as the latter tried to prevent re-arrest of Sharma.

The authorities have not said anything about the reason for Sharma’s re-arrest. Sharma’s whereabouts remain unknown.

Sharma, who was arrested from Asan, Kathmandu, two-and-half-year ago, had been detained incommunicado until March this year when the government disclosed his whereabouts.But now,The government had charged Sharma with the murder of a student, Deepak Lama, and of involvement in terrorist activities.

He was brought to Kathmandu from Gorkha two weeks earlier.

Acting on a case filed by the government accusing him of involving in ‘terrorist’ activities including in an explosion at a police post in Kathmandu, the Special Court had on Sunday allowed the authorities to detain him for additional 25 days.

The government has charged Sharma of being involved in an attack at a police station in Kathmandu.
Tax Laws is not enough for Checking Corruption: Experts

Kathmandu Dec 19-Many provisions in the two important laws relating to revenue collection in the country are supportive to promote corruption rather than control it.

Income Tax Act 2058 and Value Added Tax Act 2052 are considered as the country’s major revenue collection tools.

Within these laws, many clauses are either undefined or ambiguous wherein tax officers are provided with selective powers and work procedures are lengthy or tiresome, which only tend to promote corruption, said participants at an interaction program held in Kathmandu on Monday.

At the programme organized by Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI), participants said the laws were not quite effective in terms of the clauses relating to accounting system, employment, services, donation and tax deduction provisions.

Participants said absence of transparency within the laws was painful for entrepreneurs, and this also negatively affects the revenue collection target of the government.

Chartered Accountant Sudarsan Raj Pandey and Senior Economist Puskar Raj Bajracharya presented separate working papers on the issue in the interaction.

Both paper presenters advised the need for alteration and transparency on Clauses 13, 16, 22, 23 and 24 of the VAT Act. Similarly in the Income tax Act, they advised modification in Clauses 2, 7, 10, 13, 25, 33, 67, 75, 76, 81, 82, 83, 89, 93, 100, 124 and 129.

Director General of Inland Tax Department, Ran Bahadur Shrestha, said, “The Department is ready to adopt advised suggestions after due study.”

He said the Department always welcomed the valuable suggestions derived from the taxpayers.
RCCC can't move against judges: JC

Kathmandu, Dec 19 - The Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) cannot take action against judges on charge of corruption as the constitution has not given it such authority, says the report of a high-level committee of the Judicial Council (JC).

In the report made public on Sunday by Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel, the committee has termed "unconstitutional" the RCCC's action against Pyuthan District Court Judge Birendra Kumar Karna in March, adding "...the laws cannot recognize such illegal actions [of the RCCC]."
"The only body authorized [by the constitution] to take action against judges facing corruption charges is the JC, and no authority or body can take action against judges in contravention of this clear constitutional provision," the report says.

The JC is the apex body of the judiciary, it is authorized to take action against judges, and the Chief Justice heads it while two other seniormost justices of the Supreme Court and the law minister are members. Karna's controversial arrest was viewed by the legal fraternity at the time as an attack on the independence of the judiciary.

The JC, however, was silent over the case. This is the first time it has commented formally on the jurisdiction of the RCCC. The Council had adopted the report on August 25 and even sent its decision to King Gyanendra. The report was not made public until sunday. It came out in the bulletin of the JC released on the occasion of Judicial Council Day .

The RCCC, formed on February 17 by the king after he seized power, had arrested judge Karna on March 23 while allegedly taking a bribe from a lawyer. The controversial RCCC defended its action, saying that it arrested the judge as per its jurisdiction as defined by the king. The RCCC submitted a report on the case to the king, but the Principal Secretariat of the Royal Palace referred the case to the JC amidst protests from the legal fraternity.

The JC had formed a single-member committee led by Senior Justice of the Supreme Court Min Bahadur Rayamajhi to probe the case. Dr Tulsi Giri represented the government before the Council as law minister at that time. The Rayamajhi committee found the judge guilty. He was suspended as per the report and a corruption case filed against him at the Appellate Court Tulsipur in Dang.

The Supreme Court has completed hearings on the constitutionality of the RCCC and its verdict is expected on Jan 5.

Singh committee sworn in

Kathmandu,Dec 19-The High Level Judicial Probe Commission formed to look into the Nagarkot incident headed by former justice of the Supreme Court Top Bahadur Singh started its work from Sunday.Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel administered the oath of office and secrecy to former Supreme Court Justice Top Bahadur Singh, the head of the judicial investigation committee formed to probe the Nagarkot incident in which 12 civilians were mowed down by a frenzied army man on Wednesday night.

After being sworn in, Singh administered the oath of office and secrecy to two other members of the committee, former Attorney General Prem Bahadur Bista and Deputy Attorney General Drona Raj Regmi The probe committee, which was formed on Thursday, has been given five days to submit its report to the government.The Judicial Committee visited the Birendra Army Hospital, Chhauni, and talked to 16 of those injured in Thursday's incident that had claimed the lives of 12 civilians and a solider of the Royal Nepalese Army.

They said that they would continue with the interrogation of the injured sometime later.
The committee would conduct a judicial investigation and would try to establish whether the incident was an outcome of loss of temper or a bias feeling towards the locals, he said.
The committee is planning to move out to the incident site Tuesday after setting up its office and verifying the facts that have been made public so far, Singh said.

Singh said that though the high level commission had been given five days to complete all the investigations on the incident, he had requested the concerned authorities to extend the time period.
Pro Public moves court

Kathmandu, Dec 19-Pro Public on Sunday filed a case in the Supreme Court seeking judicial intervention to resolve the problem of disposal of obsolete pesticides being stored unsafely.
These pesticides have been creating serious threat to the environment and public health, a statement issued on Sunday by the Pro Public said. It said, Nepal contains 75 tonnes of obsolete pesticide that are being stored unsafely in 24 different locations throughout the country for over the last 30 years, the original packaging of the pesticides are rusted and rotted. They include pesticides including POPs such as Dieldrin, Organochlorinated mercury and DDT.
Bank managers released

Kathmandu, Dec 19-The Special Courton sunday imposed Rs 100,000 bail each on suspended general manager of the Central Office of the Agricultural Development Bank, Ram Chandra Maharjan and former general manager Jalan Kumar Sharma on a corruption case.

Sharma was produced before the court today responding to the summons issued by the court in a corruption case filed by the CIAA charging of corruption while purchasing 78 vehicles for the Bank.Both were released after they furnished the bail amount.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Media Ordinance constitutional: Government

Kathmandu Dec 17-At a time when the controversial Media Ordinance, promulgated in October this year, is facing criticism from various walks of life, the Ministry of Information and Communications has claimed that the Media Ordinance does not restrict the freedom of speech and expression and does not violate press and publication rights in the country.

In its written reply to the Supreme Court (SC) the ministry has also requested the SC to quash the writ petition filed by several professional organisations, including the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, challenging the Media Ordinance.

The ministry has also requested the Supreme Court to quash the writ petition filed by several professional organisations, including the Federation of Nepalese Journalists, challenging the Media Ordinance. The ministry submitted its written reply before the SC on Wednesday claiming that the ordinance does not prevent people from exercising their rights under the existing laws.

Kumar Prasad Poudel, secretary at the ministry, said there was no need for the apex court to test the constitutionality of the ordinance, which was promulgated by the King with the consent of the cabinet, reports said.

"The Press and Publication Act 1991 was formed with the consent of the cabinet and the National Broadcasting Act 1992 and was promulgated by the parliament. Hence the Act is not beyond amendment through an ordinance," the ministry claims.The ministry has said the ordinance was promulgated within constitutional parameters and it had no intention of violating the rights guaranteed by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights 1948 and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966, as claimed by the writ petitioners.

He added that the King had issued the ordinance as per Article 72 of the Constitution and thus there was no need to consider the writ petition filed at the SC.

The ministry has accused various professional organisations of filing the writ petition at the SC with ill intent and without sufficient grounds to challenge the ordinance.

Nine professional organizations filed a petition demanding to repeal the media ordinance saying it limits the rights guaranteed by the constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 1990.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Women can sell their property:SC

Kathmandu Dec 16-The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that women are not required to obtain consent from their father, husband, son and unmarried daughter, if they want to sell and hand over ownership of their property.

A three-member bench of justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Badri Kumar Basnet and Kalyan Shrestha scrapped Section 2 of the Women’s Property Chapter of Civil Code 1963, which prevents women from using property without the consent of guardian their husbands, fathers or sons.

The bench ordered the government to review two other provisions in the Parental Property Chapter of the Civil Code which says that parental property should not be given to married daughters and that such property can revert even after giving, as per Section 1(a) and 16 of the Parental Property Chapter in the line with the right to equality as guaranteed by the 1990 Constitution empowering women to sell their properties as per their wish.

The Court gave the order acting upon two separate petitions filed by Lili Thapa and advocate Prakashmani Sharma.

The petitioner had claimed the provisions were discriminatory because Article 11 of the Constitution guarantees the right to equality of the people.

In a similar historic decision, the SC, on November 29 had ruled that women under 35 are not required to obtain their parent’s or husband’s consent to apply for a passport.
SC Rules against Recruiting Minors in Police, Army

Kathmandu Dec 16 The Supreme Court of Nepal on Thursday ruled the Army and police forces against inducting recruits below 18 years of age.

The apex court declared nullification of two laws, one relating to the Nepal Police and the other to the Royal Nepal Army, which provided rooms for recruitments below 18 years of age.

Police Recruitment and Service Regulations 2042 and Recruitment Service Regulations of Royal Nepal Army-2028 were declared null and void by the Supreme Court.

The verdict was delivered by a three-member bench of justices Messrs Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Badri Kumar Basnet and Kalyan Shrestha.

The ruling came in response to a petition filed by advocate Sabin Shrestha seven months ago, claiming that the provision of recruiting youths below 18 contravened Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal as well as United Nations and other international conventions.

In their response during the Court hearings, both Nepal Police and the Royal Nepal Army had testified that they had already stopped recruiting people below 18.

Earlier, Police used to recruit even from 13-17 years age group and Royal Nepal Army from 15-18 year age groups.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Produce Detainees in the court : SC

Kathmandu, Dec 15-Responding to a habeas corpus petition, the Supreme Court today ordered the Royal Nepalese Army (RNA) to produce detained Maoist student leader Himal Sharma before the apex court on coming Monday.A division bench of justices Sharada Shrestha and Damodar Prasad Sharma issued the order on thursday.

Himal Sharma is a former general secretary of the Maoist-affiliated ANNISU-R and the security forces had arrested him two years ago. He is in preventive detention under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Control and Punishment Ordinance (TADO) ever since his arrest.

During today’s hearing, senior advocate Bishwo Kanta Mainali, advocates Agni Kharel, Satish Kharel, Bhimarjun Acharya and Tikaram Bhattarai sought the apex court’s order to release him. The advocates contended that Sharma’s imprisonment in preventive detention for two years was illegal.

The bench ordered the army to produce Sharma him before the SC, responding to a report of the NHRC that informed the court regarding Sharma’s detention at Rajdal barrack at Gorkha.
According to Sharma’s lawyer Bhattarai, NHRC had told the SC two months ago that its inspection team deployed to look into the detention centres had found him in the barrack.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Verdict on RCCC on Jan 5

Kathmandu Dec 14-The Supreme Court (SC) is scheduled to give its final verdict on the petition that challenged the legitimacy of the Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC), on January 5, 2006.

The 5-member special bench looking into the case fixed the date for the settlement of the case on Wednesday after the lawyers representing the petitioners finished presenting their argument.

Rajiv Parajuli and advocate Santosh Mahato had filed the case at the SC, demanding for the dissolution of the RCCC claiming that its formation was unconstitutional.

The special bench comprising justices Kedar Prasad Giri, Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Ram Nagina Singh, Anup Raj Sharma and Ram Prasad Shrestha also asked both defending lawyers and petitioners to present their notes to the apex court within one week.

Senior Advocate Basu Dev Dhungana, Bar Association president Shambhu Thapa, advocate Tikaram Bhattarai and others pleaded on behalf of the petitioners today.
ICJ urges government to repeal media ordinance

Kathmandu, Dec 14-In a report released today the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has said that Nepal's Media Ordinance is in violation of Nepal's international human rights obligations and the Nepali Constitution and called on the Government immediately to repeal the Ordinance.

"The Ordinance seeks to provide a legal cover for unlawful practices and restrictions used by the Government to suppress freedom of the media and the right of Nepalis to receive information," said Nicholas Howen, ICJ Secretary-General.

Since its promulgation in October, the Ordinance has been used to justify raids on radio stations, seizure of radio transmission equipment, enforcement of restrictions on broadcasting news and detention and harassment of journalists, the report says.

"Enforcement of the Ordinance will have a chilling effect on the media and lead to greater self-censorship as journalists try to predict when the authorities will try to silence a newspaper or broadcast or close down whole media operations," said Nicholas Howen.

The report released today, Power to silence: Nepal's new Media Ordinance, describes how through the Ordinance the Government is trying to roll back some successes journalists have had in defending their legitimate democratic space to speak and write, including by: prohibiting news broadcasts, suppressing criticism of the Government and discussions in the media that are seen as politically sensitive for the Government, severely limiting access to foreign media and enabling the Government to bar journalists from working professionally.

"The purpose of the Ordinance seems to be to close down critical media, rather than legitimately regulating the media," said Nicholas Howen.The ICJ in the report welcomed the fact that the Supreme Court has issued two interim orders instructing the Government not to enforce aspects of the Ordinance.

The report adds that the ICJ is disturbed by media reports that that the Maoists have violated their 12-Point Understanding with the seven-party alliance by harassing a group of journalists, seizing their media equipment and abducting Ram Dahal, a UNDP programme coordinator, in Taplejung district on 1 December. The ICJ in its report called on the Maoists to take immediate steps to put their commitment to respect human rights and press freedom into action.