Thursday, August 31, 2006

Rayamajhi Commission to question King Gyanendra

The high-level commission formed to investigate into the atrocities committed to suppress the people’s movement-II grilled King Gyanendra’s principal secretary, Pashupati Bhakta Maharjan, on Thursday.

Maharjan reached the commission at 10.56 a.m. Talking to journalists before filing the statement, Maharjan, said he came to the commission as it has summoned him to answer some of its questions. He however denied to talk with journalists after filing the statement saying he had told everything to the commission officials.

Maharjan, who was conferred with the honorary title ‘Mir Subba’ by the palace last year, worked as a pointman in political meetings of the King Gyanendra, mainly after his October 4, 2002, move when he sacked then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.

This is the first case of the commission summoning people from the royal palace.

The Commission had already summoned more than 200 people including vice-chairmen duo of the royal cabinet, security chiefs for their alleged role in suppression of the April movement.

According to members of the commission, the commission is mulling to summon King Gyanendra as a chairman of the erstwhile royal government for his role in suppressing the pro-democracy movement in the country, after the cabinet members said that the then cabinet should collectively take the responsibility of the losses occurred during the movement.

Mainwhile The High-Level Investigation Commission headed by former Supreme Court justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi said the commission is yet to decide whether to question the king or not over the suppression of people’s movement during his direct rule.

However, Rayamajhi said the King would be questioned as the head of the then government and not as the head of the state, if the commission decides to interrogate the King.

Rayamajhi claimed the Supreme Court verdict on RCCC dissolution has already paved ways to investigate and question the King as he had assumed executive powers.

He said the Commission will take action against everybody who suppressed or played a role in suppressing the people.

CIAA charges 3 for fake certificate use

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), the national anti-corruption watchdog, lodged cases against three junior government employees at the special court in Kathmandu Tuesday, accusing the three of using fake academic certificates for appointment to their jobs and subsequent promotions.

According to a statement issued by the CIAA Wednesday, the individuals charged are Narayan Bahadur GC, a clerk at Nepal Electricity Authority; Uttara Ghimire, a school teacher at Biddhodaya Sanskrit Secondary School at Khandbari; and Narendra Gurung, a school teacher at Rastriya Primary School in Chitawan.

GC, Ghimire and Gurung used fake certificates from the Secondary Education Council in Ilahabad and the Bihar Sanskrit Education Board of Patna, India respectively, the statement read.

As per the Corruption Control Act, the accused, if found guilty by a court of law, could be fined up to Rs 20,000 and jailed for up to one year.

If found guilty, they would also be stripped of the perks, pensions and other facilities they would otherwise be entitled to under the existing rules and would be declared unqualified for any kind of government service in future.

Constitution panel’s work ‘incomplete’

Constitutional law experts said the interim constitution draft prepared by the Interim Constitution Drafting Commission (ICDC) is incomplete and imperfect.

“The draft is not a perfect document as it has not adopted the norms and values of constitutionalism,” Purnaman Shakya said.

According to him, the document proves that the persons who prepared it lacked basic knowledge on constitutional norms and values.

Shakya was speaking at an interaction organised by the Informal Sector Service Centre and Constitutional Lawyers Forum in the capital.

“The draft has failed to address the armed conflict and other major issues,” Shakya said. “The draft also failed to come up with a clear vision on how to include the Maoists in the government,” he added.

Another expert Bhimarjun Acharya also said the draft constitution does not follow the basic norms and values of constitutional principles.
“It was a misconception of the members of the committee to propose the chairman of the interim legislature as the head of state at a time when monarchy still exists,” Acharya said, adding: “Another important issue is that the committee has tried to make the judiciary accountable to the parliament and the executive.”

Advocate Tikaram Bhattarai said that though the draft has some “very beautiful” provisions on fundamental rights, it has failed to reflect the spirit of the Jana Andolan.

Members of the ICDC Harihar Dahal and Agni Kharel have said that they had no option but to draft an ‘incomplete’ document and leave for the government and the Maoist talks team to decide on major political issues.

Another member of the panel, Pushpa Bhushal, said the panel would consider the numerous suggestions made while discussing the draft with leaders in the government and the Maoists to finalise it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

SC orders govt to form probe committee

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the government to form an all-powerful probe committee to investigate the whereabouts of detainee Rajendra Prasad Dhakal, Bipin Bhandari and Dil Bahadur Rai.

Taking up separate habeas corpus petitions filed on behalf of Dhakal, Bhandari and Rai, Justices Khil Raj Regmi and Kalyan Shrestha further ordered that the committee comprise an appellate court judge, a representative from Nepal Bar Association (NBA) and a joint attorney general from the Office of the Attorney General. The committee has been asked to submit its report to the court within three months.

This is the first time the apex court has ordered formation of such a probe committee to seek the whereabouts of disappeared people.

Dhakal, the then President of Gorkha NBA Unit, has gone missing for the last nine years. Security forces had reportedly arrested Dhakal from Abukhaireni, Tanahun district. Similarly, the whereabouts of Maoist student leaders Bhandari and Rai is unknown since their arrest from Chabahil, Kathmandu, in 2001.
Bills passed

The meeting on monday of the House of Representatives unanimously passed the Finance Bill-2063 B.S., Loan and Guarantee (15th amendment) Bill-2063 B.S. and National Loan Recovery Bill-2063 B.S.
The Bill were presented before the Parliament by Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat.
Meanwhile, Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Hridayesh Tripathi presented the Company Bill-2006, the Export Import (Control) Bill-2006 and the Bill on the Non-Resident Nepalese (NRNs)-2006.
The meeting, unanimously passed the proposal presented on behalf the Prime Minister by Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Narendra Bikram Nemwang that the Poverty Alleviation Fund Bill-2006 and the Good-governance (Management and Execution) Bill-2006 be sent to the Committees concerned for holding clause-wise discussions on them.

Monday, August 28, 2006

PM assures ratification of ICC treaty

The Asian delegation for the International Criminal Court (ICC) has called for Nepal's immediate accession to the ICC treaty.

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in a meeting assured the delegation that the government would accede to the ICC treaty as directed by the House of Representatives, the delegation members said at a press meet organised today at the end of a two-day experts' meeting on 'Ending Impunity: A Revival of the ICC Campaign in Nepal.'

The delegation also met with leaders of major political parties but not of CPN-Maoist in their bid to garner support for the campaign. They said the Maoists did not want to meet with them.

Accession to the treaty will facilitate peace and justice and provide opportunities to consolidate rule of law and democracy in Nepal, they said, adding it will also facilitate streamlining of domestic laws according to international standards and set a positive example for the entire region.

The delegation consists of Dr. Ahmed Ziauddin of Asian Network for the ICC (Belgium), Evelyn Balais Serrano of Coalition for the ICC-Asia (the Philippines), Niza Concepcion of Asian Forum of Human Rights and Development, Nazrul Islam and Katherine Aylwin of Odhikar-Bangladesh and Subodh Raj Pyakurel of INSEC Nepal.

Highlighting the importance of ICC in Nepal where the army is still loyal to the monarchy, Pyakurel said that the treaty, once ratified, would reject, defeat and challenge impunity.

Hearing begins in Karki's case
A division bench of justices Rajendra Kumar Bhandari and Damodar Prasad Sharma on sunday began hearing on whether to extend the stay order issued by the Supreme Court on August 22 to the government not to transfer former Chief Secretary Lok Man Singh Karki as an officer on special duty to the National Planning Commission.

Lawyers Komal Prakash Ghimire, Sushil Kumar Pant and Jogendra Keshari Ghimire pleaded on Karki’s behalf. The hearing will continue tomorrow.

A single bench of Justice Balram KC had issued the order to the Prime Ministers Office and Cabinet, new Chief Secretary Bhoj Raj Ghimire, Ministry of General Administration, Ministry of Finance and NPC to attend the SC.
SC orders govt to protect lake
The Supreme Court ordered the government authorities act to protect the Bishajari Tal in Chitwan district. A division bench of Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel and Khil Raj Regmi ordered the government authorities to protect the lake.
Advocate Dhananjaya Khanal had filed the petition seeking the court’s order to the government to save the lake.
66 disappeared from Bhairabnath : NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said the number of people who have gone missing from the Bhairabnath Battalion of the Nepali Army (NA) has reached 66.

"According to our investigations and findings, 66 individuals including five women have gone missing from the Bhairabnath Battalion between 2002 to early 2005," said an NHRC official.

This was revealed in a written statement submitted to the Supreme Court (SC) by the NHRC in response to its order to furnish an explanation regarding a case filed by Krishna KC, Himal Sharma, Bina Magar and Leknath Neupane concerning the disappearance of 49 individuals from Bhairabnath Battalion.

“Although KC and his colleagues, in their habeas corpus petition, included NHRC as one of the defendants, we gave a detailed account to the SC stating that the commission has identified 66 individuals who have disappeared from the Bhairabnath Battalion,” said the source.

He further said that the commission hoped that its detailed information to the court will help trace the whereabouts of the missing individuals.

Brigadier General BA Kumar Sharma, chief of the NA’s legal unit, said the army is probing the allegations concerning the disappearance from the Bhairabnath battalion.

“I can’t comment on the issue until I get to see the army’s report after a probe,” he said. Sharma said he was not aware of the alleged disappearance cases hitting 66.

The NHRC list of those disappeared from the Bhairabnath Battalion includes names of Gyanendra Tripathi, secretary of All Nepal National Independent Student Union — Revolutionary’s central secretariat and Nischal Nakarmi Maoists’ regional bureau member amongst others.

The OHCHR Nepal in its report had made public a list of 49 missing individuals who were detained at Bhairabnath Battalion.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Mixed reaction over interim draft constitution

Senior leaders of the ruling seven-party alliance have expressed their dissatisfaction over the "incomplete" draft of the interim constitution, which was submitted to the government and the Maoist talks team on Friday.

Talking to Kantipur Television, UML's Standing Committee member Bharat Mohan Adhikari said that he was dissatisfied by the draft of the interim statute made public yesterday by sidestepping the key political issues.

"We should have made a collective effort to give the interim constitution a complete shape but we failed to do so in time," said Adhikari.

The interim constitution drafting committee on Friday handed over the draft statue to the government and Maoist negotiating teams proposing a referendum to decide the fate of monarchy.

Nepali Congress leader Chakra Prasad Bastola said, "The seven-party alliance leaders could have reached a consensus on the major political issues including the position of the king, interim legislator, among others, before making the interim constitution public," said.

Meanwhile, the Maoists said that the government reluctance to enter into the chief political agenda is the main reason of delay in reaching agreement between the seven-party alliance and the Maoists.

"The interim statute couldn’t be given a complete shape after the leaders failed to reach an agreement at the political level," Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the Maoist spokesman said.

The SPA leaders have said the draft would be presented before a meeting of senior leaders of the seven-party alliance and Maoists soon to arrive at consensus on contentious issues.

The Interim Constitution Drafting Committee has recommended that the fate of monarchy should be decided by a referendum, which should be held along with constituent assembly election.

The draft statute says the interim legislature's chairman will take charge as Head of the State in case monarchy is abolished before the constituent assembly makes any alternative arrangement.

According to the draft, sovereignty and state power will vest in Nepali people. Similarly, the committee has suggested that Nepal will be a democratic and secular state. The draft statue has suggested four options to the political parties on the type of Nepali state - regional federal republic, federal democratic, socialist heading toward republic and heading toward republic.

Serious difference over the issue of monarchy resulted in submission of an incomplete draft of interim constitution, members of the now defunct Interim Constitution Drafting Committee (ICDC) said .

President of the Nepal Bar Association and one of the ICDC members, Shambhu Thapa, said the panel could not make a complete draft of the interim statute because of two schools of thoughts regarding the monarchy and other issues.

The draft of the interim constitution, however, would provide opportunity to the people to choose one of the two schools of thoughts, he said.
Thapa said the ICDC agreed to refer the draft to the top leaders of the seven-party alliance and the Maoists through the government and the Maoist talks teams after they failed to reach consensus on the monarchy, process of interim legislature and constituent assembly polls.

“This is not a complete draft of the interim constitution, but a report which we handed over to the Government-Maoist talks teams,” he said at a programmes held here.

Thapa also warned that the election to constituent assembly would not be held so soon as there would emerge more complications among the political parties once the nation enters the “tunnel” of the constituent assembly.

The duration of the interim statute has been proposed for two-and-half-years and the country would land into further crisis if the constituent assembly election was not held within the period, Thapa said.

He also warned that the constitution made through constituent assembly would also fail like in East Timor and Iraq if the process of the constituent assembly was not handled properly.

Former NBA president and member of the defunct ICDC, Harihar Dahal, said the 16 members of the panel could not reach a consensus due to narrow-mindedness. “Maybe, because of political misunderstanding we could not prepare a draft of consensus,” Dahal said, adding that no principle of constitutionalism was followed while preparing the draft.

He said they kept the monarchy under “transitional provision” and gave no power to the King as per the spirit of the May 18 Declaration of the House of Representatives.

He said that they also could not reach consensus on the process of reappointment of judges, the process of the constituent assembly, number and nature of the interim legislature and issue of citizenship certificates.

“We have given more than one option and kept some issues in brackets where we failed to agree on them,” said Dahal.

Chandeswor Shrestha who represented the Janamorcha Nepal in ICDC said they had extensively discussed whether or not to keep the monarchy in the interim statute.

ICDC submits interim constitution

The Interim Constitution Drafting Committee (ICDC) finally submitted the interim constitution to the peace talks team after 68 days it was formed on Friday evening.

The 76-page draft was handed over to government talks team leader Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Maoist talks team Krishna Bahadur Mahara amidst a ceremony organized at ICDC office inside the peace secretariat Singh Durbar. Members of both the talks team attended the function.

However, the draft remains incomplete due to differences among the parties and the Maoists on major political issues. The major differences remain on the position of the king in the constitution. The members of the panel decided to keep the king without any power but they are silent regarding status of queen, crown prince and other royal family members.

It has been stated that t he king's position will be decided either by the constituent assembly or by a referendum.

Speaking at the constitution hand over ceremony, coordinator of draft team Laxma Prasad Aryal said this constitution has been prepared only for the transitional period.

The preamble states that this constitution would remain in force until a legislative body or constituent assembly promulgates new constitution of the state. It also said that the constitution would institutionalize the achievement of the people's revolution against the tyranny.

The committee discussed on the draft till last minute to reach a consensus but differences among the members also hindered finalization of some political issues.

The authority conferred by article 122 of the 1990 statute to the king to grant pardon and commute or remit sentences imposed by all courts and to appoint ambassadors and to receive credentials from ambassadors has been scraped. The talks team or head of the eight parties will finalize the issue who should appoint or receive credential of the ambassadors.

There are 26 parts and 172 articles in the new statute against 23 parts and 133 articles in the 1990 constitution.

The committee members agreed to leave the issue interim legislature to be decided on the basis of consensus between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Maoist but adopted mixed election system to elect the CA members.
The statute is being prepared on the basis of the 12-point understanding, 8-point agreement and declaration of the House of Representatives of May 18.

The right to employment, right to education and right to medicare have been added as fundamental human rights of every citizens. Likewise, Part 4 contains the responsibility of the state.

The interim constitution also has the provision for the reappointment of the judges and the heads and members of the constitutional bodies. Chief justice Dilip Kumar Poudel had opposed the idea and urged that the justices should be allowed to complete their tenure. Similarly, National Human Rights Commission has been given the status of constitutional body.

Part 8 has provision for constituent assembly and there will be a constituent assembly court under Supreme Court. It will have three members of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, expressing dissatisfaction on the new draft, UML affiliate member of the ICDC Chhatra Kumari Ghale has submitted a separate draft to the talks team.

The committee led by former Supreme Court Justice Aryal was instituted on June 16 during the first summit talks between the SPA and the Maoists. The committee was given 15 days but due to lack of consensus among the parties on major political issue, the committee could not complete the draft on given time

Read interim draft constitution

Thursday, August 24, 2006

CJ Poudel stresses for independence of Judiciary

Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel has asked the government to secure the independence of the courts and the judges.

Speaking at a programme in the capital on Wednesday, Poudel said the State cannot be mindless when dealing with the judiciary and fixing salaries and perks of the judges.

He also called the government not to reduce salaries of the judges or change their service tenure already fixed by laws.

Poudel further said, “Judges should be allowed to be in service throughout the period determined by the law effective at the time of their appointment.”

"Judges are not merely independent for the institutional work. Nobody should interfere in their work," Poudel added.

Poudel also stressed the need for good relations between the bench and the bar to protect the independence of the judiciary.

Stating that democracy can prosper if there is an independent judiciary, the CJ warned that any act undermining the independence of judiciary is unacceptable.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Arrest warrants issued against NCSIDB officials

Police headquarters has issued arrest warrants against the chief and other senior officials of the financially-troubled Nepal Cottage and Small Industries Development Bank (NCSIDB) on charges of extending loans with the intention of fraud, causing a loss of Rs 280 million to the bank.

A source informed that arrest warrants have been issued against 20 persons, including Sita Ram Prasain, the incumbent chief and other officials of the bank, as well as other persons related to 16 private firms, which have taken loans from the bank.

The police headquarters has circulated arrest warrants to all its regional offices on Monday, said the source.

All the arrest warrants have been issued on the charge of extending loans without collateral or against inferior collateral, which were not even enough to back half of the loan amount, said the source.

"We are currently investigating 16 loan files extended by the bank and 20 persons directly connected to the cases are to be arrested," said the source.

Earlier, Nepal Rastra bank had forwarded a number of cases to financial crime branch of the Nepal Police after the initial investigation found that some of the cases are relevant to the Fraud Section of the Civil Code.

SC issued a short-term stay order

The Supreme Court issued a short-term stay order in favour of the then chief secretary of the cabinet led by the King, Lokman Singh Karki, directing the government not to implement the decision to transfer him to the National Planning Commission (NPC).

Following a hearing, a single bench of Justice Balram KC issued the order to the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet, newly appointed Chief Secretary Bhoj Raj Ghimire, Ministry of General Administration, Ministry of Finance and NPC not to implement the cabinet decision passed on August 7 to transfer Karki to NPC. The bench also directed the government to attend before the SC on August 28 to participate in a hearing whether to extend the stay order. The bench issued show cause notices to the authorities to explain why a decision was taken to transfer Karki. Creating a new post officer on special duty, the government had transferred Karki to the NPC.

The government had suspended him for three months on the charge of suppressing the April movement and following the completion of the three month-long suspension, the government had decided to transfer him to the NPC. However, he had challenged the government’s decision.

Bajura court gets a judge after 2 yrs

District court Bajura, which was running without a judge for the last two years, has recently got a new judge. The Judicial Council recently appointed Omkar Upadhya to the post.

Locals, who had been deprived of justice for long, have been encouraged after arrival of newly-appointed judge Upadhaya. Several cases filed in the court are pending due to absence of judge. Twenty-three cases that needed to be settled within three months are also pending in the court.

"Now I am hopeful with regard to the justice that I am seeking from the court," said Narayan Rokaya of Mankot who filed a similar case two years ago.

Interim constitution will hand over on Friday

The government and the Maoist negotiating teams are to receive the interim constitution crafted by the Interim Constitution Draft Committee on Friday.

According to sources, head of the government talks team and Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula assured the head of ICDC Laxman Prasad Aryal over the phone that both the teams would receive the interim constitution.

An informal meeting of the government and rebel talks team on Monday had agreed to receive the constitution.

Despite the repeated appeals by the ICDC head Aryal, the seven-party alliance government and the Maoist rebels have failed to reach a common agreement on the interim legislature, constituent assembly process, arms management and other political issues, resulting in the delay of the submission deadline of the temporary constitution.

The ICDC has been saying that it wants to submit the “unfinished” interim constitution leaving the issues to be resolved by the talks teams themselves.

Head of ICDC Laxman Prasad Aryal, said that Home Minister Sitaula, however, did not mention the common agreement on the issue.

If both the sides failed to reach a common consensus on certain key issues of the interim constitution, the ICDC, according to Aryal, will submit the constitution with its own decision over the issues.

According to the source, the government is preparing to table the draft interim constitution in the cabinet meeting for discussion.

Tuesday's cabinet meeting held at the prime minister's residence decided to present the interim constitution at parliament for endorsement.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

NBA condemns attack on Jhapa district court

The Nepal Bar Association (NBA) today condemned attack on Jhapa District Court by a group of persons claimed themselves to be Maoists.

The group had vandalised the court furniture and destroyed documents and used defamatory language to the judges, staffers and the lawyers yesterday.

“It is a sheer defamation and contemptuous act on the judges, court officials and the lawyers. Vandalising court furniture and destroying documents is a condemnable act,” NBA general secretary, Madhav Banskota, said today while issuing a press release. The NBA also termed the incident tried to tarnish the image of the independent of judiciary.

The NBA told the political parties that there is no other judicial system in the country except the judiciary defined by constitution and law.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Rayamajhi commission grills eight army officials

The high-level judicial commission headed by former Supreme Court justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi which is investigating into the atrocities committed by the erstwhile royal regime to suppress the people’s movement-II interrogated eight Nepali Army officials on Monday.

The army officials who recorded their statements at the probe commission’s office today were Lt Colonels Sagar Bahadur Thapa, Niraj Poudel and Sagar Bahadur KC, Majors Umesh Karki, Sepchen Lama and Sahakul Thapa, Caption Dev Bahadur Chhetri and Lieutenant Sunil Khadka.

The probe commission said the army officers were interrogated on the basis of the evidences gathered during the field visits in various districts.

The commission has already interrogated some 150 individuals including then vice-chairman-duo of the royal regime Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirtinidhi Bista, former ministers, outgoing army chief Pyar Jung Thapa and other army Generals and security chiefs in connection with their alleged role in suppressing the democratic movement in April this year.

At least 21 pro-democracy agitators were killed and nearly 4000 others injured during the 19-day long movement

Youths Ransack Jhapa District Court

A group of five to seven youths claiming themselves to be Maoists ransacked the Jhapa District Court this afternoon.

According to the district court judge, Bimal Dhungel, five to seven youths, who claimed to be Maoists, entered the court room at 2.15 pm when the court proceeding was on and smashed two glasses on the table and tore apart some documents.

They shouted at the court staffers asking why they continued with the official work when they were organising a protest rally against the hike in prices of petroleum products.

The court officials later pacified the youths and retrieved a file related to a murder case, which they had attempted to take away with them.

Judge Dhungel said similar incidents occurred also in the District Land Revenue Office, Revenue Office and the District Administration Office.

Jhapa Chief District Officer Jaya Mukunda Khanal said some armed Maoists and other people came into the DAO and set ablaze an old chair while demonstrating against the price hike.

Some people suddenly entered the DAO office and delivered a public speech urging immediate promulgation of an interim constitution and formation of an interim government, assistant chief district officer Murari Sharma said, adding that they also torched a motorcycle parked in front of the District Election Office.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

House approves Military Bill

The House of Representatives at its meeting unanimously approved the Military Bill-2006 and the Bill on Procedures for the Certification of Some Public Documents- 2006.Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Narendra Bikram Nemwang had tabled the Bills in the House of Representatives on behalf the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence seeking its approval.
Taking part in the discussions on the Military Bill, MPs expressed their belief that the proposed Act would help in the democratisation of the Nepal Army and it would give an identity of the national army to the Nepali Army which had hitherto remained as a personal army and raise high the dignity of the armed forces of Nepal.
The MPs suggested that provisions be made in the Constitution permitting to file cases in the civilian courts on the crimes committed by the Army and incorporating topics related to national security in the Constitution.
They also demanded that the transaction of the Army Welfare Fund be made transparent.
Responding to queries from the MPs, Minister Nemwang said that the Government was positive with regard to the reform measures suggested by them.

No place for parliament in interim constitution: Aryal

Coordinator of Interim Constitution Drafting Committee, Laxman Prasad Aryal, has said that the parliament and the present constitution would automatically be dismissed after promulgating the interim constitution.

Speaking at an interaction in Lekhanath, Kaski, on Saturday, Aryal said, “The present constitution and parliament are old clothes being worn for lack of new ones; if there were new clothes, who would wear old ones?”

He said an interim constitution could have been drafted without seeking suggestions from the political parties but such a document would not meet the desire of the people.

Aryal also accused the parliamentarians of wasting time by getting engaged in minor issues and not showing concern on the elections to a constituent assembly.

Aryal also said that announcement of interim constitution has been delayed due to lack of a fixed stance of Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.

He added that the country has not moved ahead following the spirit of Janaandolan II due to the prime minister's unreliable statements on the monarchy and Maoists.

"The interim constitution is ready. It is stuck because of the dispute over monarchy," Aryal added.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

SC Accepts Petition Against House Declaration

The Supreme Court on on Friday decided to accept a writ petition challenging the May 18 Declaration of the House of Representatives and will conduct a hearing on the case.

A single bench of justice Paramananda Jha directed the SC administration to register the petition filed by advocate Achyut Prasad Kharel.

The petitioner has claimed that the declaration is against the spirit of the Constitution of 1990 and the declaration should be scrapped.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Tehrathum Court quashes appeal for compensation

Tehrathum District Court quashed an appeal of a woman who had claimed to get compensated for excessive jail terms that she had served.

Padma Maya Gurung of Budhabare VDC in Dhankuta was jailed for 20 years on charge of murder in 2048 B.S. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court issued a verdict on her behalf and gave decision to release her in 2053 B.S. However, Gurung had to remain under custody until the district court received the Supreme Court verdict in 2059.

Gurung had claimed for the compensation for the five years from 2053 B.S. to 59.

The court dismissed her appeal after showing that there was no such provision for providing compensation.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Much-awaited Military Act presented at House

The government Thursday tabled a bill at the House of Representatives (HoR) to amend the Army Act-2016, which will formally sever the traditional link between the Nepali Army and the King and bring the army under the total control of democratic government.

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Narendra Bikram Nemwang presented the amendment bill the parliament on behalf of the Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala who is also the defence minister.

The bill to amend the Army Act makes no mention of the King and has removed the provision of supreme commandership of the army held by the King. As per the new Act the Nepali Army will be fully under the democratic government and will be mobilised by the Security Council chaired by the Prime Minister. The Act also allows the government to sack the army chief.

The amendment bill has changed the present set-up of the Security Council, which will have the defence minister, home minister, finance minister and foreign minister as its members. Earlier, the three-member Council comprising of the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and the army chief would recommend to the King for the mobilization of the army.

The bill also proposes that recruitments in the army be done by the Public Service Commission.

The amendment bill which aims to democratise the Nepali Army that has traditionally been loyal to the King comes as per the historic declaration of the HoR

Interim Statute Drafting Process ‘Stalled’

The interim constitution drafting process has been stalled after the government and the Maoist talks teams delayed their suggestions on major issues to the Interim Constitution Drafting Committee (ICDC) headed by former Supreme Court Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal.

"Though the government and the Maoist talks teams have told us that they will provide us their common stand on the major issues as soon as possible, they are yet to do so," a member of the ICDC, Chandeshwor Shrestha, said.

"Since this is the case, we are wondering how to go about completing the document," he said.

Confusion among the panelists on five major political agendas the King, interim parliament, interim government, the number of Constituent Assembly members and the provision on citizenship still reigns supreme.

The draft panel has already completed its tenure on August 9. It is, however, still doing its job.
The ICDC and the government and the Maoist talks teams had agreed to complete the job only after both the talks teams made suggestions on the issues.

The task force of the seven-party alliance is doing serious homework to provide suggestions to the ICDC. However, it is yet to reach a conclusion.

Mainwhile,The Interim Constitution Drafting Committee (ICDC) has proposed to widen the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and Appellate Courts by bringing the military court within their purview.

The committee will propose in its draft that the apex court should have powers to intervene in the decisions of the military court as well, ICDC coordinator Laxman Prasad Aryal said.

Aryal, however, declined to divulge any details in this regard. It may be recalled that the military court and its proceedings have been criticized by national and international human rights organizations in recent years, especially in connection with extra-judicial killings, rape and other cases of human rights violation. Human rights organizations and civil society have been demanding such a provision in view of "impunity and insufficient punishment" for human rights violators in the Nepal Army.

(Contd on Pg 3)

Under the present constitution, the Supreme Court does not have authority to intervene in the proceedings and decisions of the military court except on the grounds of absence of jurisdiction or that a proceeding has been initiated against, or punishment given to, a non-military person for an act other than an offence relating to the army.

Besides, the ICDC has also proposed powers to the appellate courts to take up writ petitions which are the sole privilege of the Supreme Court under the 1990 constitution. These are writ petitions concerning certiorari, prohibition and quo-warranto.

Aryal told that the committee is yet to reach a conclusion over the issue of reappointment of the incumbent judges after the promulgation of the interim constitution. Besides, it is also yet to take a decision on the restructuring of the Judicial Council and the Constitutional Council.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

CIAA filed Cases against DSP, three others
The Commission for Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has filed four cases at the Special Court against a Deputy Superintendent of Police and three others on charges of using fake certificates for getting jobs and promotion.
Those charged are DSP Balkrishna Thapa currently at Sarlahi District Police Office, Kanhaiya Lal Karna, receptionist at BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences, Ram Prasad Sapkota, level II assistant at Sajha Health Service and Neera Rasik Rai, assistant cashier at Nepal Rastra Bank.Thapa had presented Intermediate level certificate of Board of Education of Uttar Pradesh, India, Karna BA certificate of Mithila University, Darbhanga and Sapkota and Rai has used secondary and Intermediate level certificates from Patna.
The Commission has filed 305 cases of fake certificates at the Special Court so far.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Probe Panel Grills NID Chief, Others
The commission formed to probe into the suppression and killing of people during the April mass movement today interrogated the chief of the National Investigation Department and over a dozen police officials.
The commission headed by former Supreme Court justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi grilled NID chief Dhan Singh Karki and officials of the Nepal Police and Armed Police Force.
Talking to reporters after recording his statement at the commission office, Karki said then government should take all the responsibility for the suppression of the movement and loss of lives during the stir

Relief for Janaandolan injured

The cabinet meeting on Monday took key decisions including extension of up to Rs 950,000 as relief aid to anyone losing both eyes during Janaandolan-II, appointment of Lt. Gen. Rukmangat Katuwal as acting army chief and promotion of nine SSPs to the rank of DIG.

According to Minister of State for Information and Communication Dilendra Badu, those who lost both their eyes will receive Rs. 950,000 each and those who lost both legs will receive Rs 450,000.

The cabinet also decided to bear all expenses of those receiving treatment abroad for critical injuries sustained during the Janaandolan. Shribhadra Kandel, Sindhu Upreti and Bikram Kapali are receiving treatment in India.

The decision was taken on the basis of a parliamentary committee that categorized the injured persons in coordination with a separate committee led by Nepal Medical Association Chairperson Dr Sudha Sharma. Dr Sharma's committee was also dissolved after it submitted its report to the government.

The cabinet likewise decided to provide Rs 100,000 to Chhaya Devi Parajuli, the 86-year-old who played an inspirational role by putting herself in the frontline of the Janaandolan. She was hit by a motorcycle three weeks ago and is receiving treatment at Bir Hospital.
Several police officials interrogated

The High-Level Probe Commission sought explanation Monday from 17 police officials.Those interrogated were one DSP, nine inspectors and seven assistant sub inspectors (ASIs).
They, included DSP Sahakul Thapa, inspectors Bedraj Khanal, Dilli Raj Bista, Pratap Gurung, Dipak Adhikary, Thaman Basnet, Narendra Chand, Dambar Bahadur Chand, Shovit Bahadur Gurung and Keshav Raj Basnet. The ASIs were Bijay Kumar Chaudhary, Rupa Mandal, Krishna Prasad Shrestha, Mohammad Rafik Jolai, Rajendra Prasad Dhamala, Keshar Bahadur Thapa and Nar Bahadur Adhikary.
According to sources at the commission, all of them denied of their involvement in the atrocities during the movement in April and they were only following orders from their superiors.The Commission has called 9 others, including chief of the National Investigation Department Dhan Singh Karki for clarification on Tuesday.
They are Karki, who was the second man of the department, and SSP at the department Basanta Rai, SSP at the Armed Police Force Mahendra Kumar Bhattachan, SP Ranjan Koirala, DSP Balram Pokharel and Sub-Inspectors Subash Khadka, Govinda Giri, Damodar Dhodari and head constables Dil Bahadur Shrestha.
Bill to replace military acts tabled in House

The government produced in the House of Representatives a bill to replace the Military Act 2016 BS, the Military Power Conferring Act 2015 BS and The Power, Duty, Authority and Service Condition of the CoAS Act 2026 BS. Once passed by the House, the bill would become the Military Act 2006.

The bill proposes stripping the King of his post of the commander-in-chief of the army and allowing the Chief of Army Staffs (CoAS) to take up the post.

According to the proposed Act, the army will be controlled by the government and mobilised on the recommendation of the Defence Council headed by the prime minister. The defence, home, finance and foreign affairs ministers will be the ex-officio members of the council. Currently, the prime minister, defence minister and the CoAS are the ex-officio members as per Article 118 of the 1990 Constitution. The bill also states that the Defence Council can now invite other ministers, the CoAS, the chief secretary, chiefs of security agencies or security experts in the council’s meetings. The bill also proposes that the CoAS would retire once he attains the age of 61 years.

The Defence Council will formulate policies and programmes regarding the mobilisation and control of the Nepal Army, fix its strength and organisational structure and decide on the management of arms and ammunition.

According to the bill, the prime minister would swear in the CoAS, who will be responsible to the government. Other army officers would be appointed only after a recommendation by a panel headed by the chairman of the Pubic Service Commission or its members.

The bill also proposes promotion of army officers to the post of commissioners. The defence minister would decide on those promotions. According to the bill, the government can dismiss any army officer, while the CoAS can dismiss any non-gazetted officer or demote him/her.

The Act will, however, bar army men from joining political parties, participating in any political conference, giving speeches and publishing pamphlets. Army personnel killing anyone while performing their duty or defending themselves will not be tried in any court, according to the proposed Act. The bill also proposes that a civilian court or any quasi-judicial body cannot detain army personnel during the period of their trial in a military court. Clause 28 of the proposed Act authorises the army to set up an Army Welfare Fund where every personnel must deposit 15 per cent of their salary. Army personnel can be jailed for up to 14 years and their property forfeited if found guilty of crime.

Monday, August 14, 2006

CJ chairs panel meet

Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel chaired the Session on Consumer Protection and Role of Judiciary, one of the Panel Sessions organised in Islamabad during the International Judicial Conference, on Saturday.

The Session was co-chaired by a Barrister from Australia and a retired Judge of Pakistan's Supreme Court.

The Session also adopted a Declaration on the Subject, the Embassy of Nepal in Pakistan stated.

Chief Justice Paudel is leading a Nepalese delegation to participate in the International Judicial Conference organised n connection with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

The Chief Justice participated in the inaugural ceremony on 11 August and also attended dinners hosted by Pakistan's Prime Minister and Chairman of Pakistan's Senate (Upper Hose of Parliament) in Islamabad on 11 and 12 August respectively.

Chief Justice Paudel is accompanied by his wife, Premlata Paudel, Supreme Court Registrar Dr. Ram Krishna Timalsena and Under Secretary Shree Krishna Bhattarai.

Police thwart robbery, notorious Limbu held

Police on Sunday arrested notorious criminal Rajan Limbu and his two accomplices while they were attempting to escape after looting over Rs 300,000 in cash and other valuables from Guna Multipurpose Cooperative Limited (GMCL), Pulchowk.

Also known as Jwala, Limbu, 28, was arrested along with his close aides Bhakta Bahadur Lama, 33, of Bethan VDC-5, Ramechhaap, and Sunil Thakuri, 25, of Ratnanagar Municipality-13, Chitwan in the incident. Originally from Dharan Municipality, Sunsari, Limbu is one of the most wanted criminals of Kathmandu Valley.

According to police, Limbu is the mastermind behind the looting of various financial institutions in the capital during the last two months. Among others, his gang has been held responsible for looting Oriental Finance Company and Prabhu Money Transfer in the capital city a few months ago.

Eyewitnesses said at least four robbers, who came in a taxi and a motorcycle, barged into the GMCL office at 12.45 pm One among the armed looters stayed on the ground floor to keep a lookout for police while three others climbed to the first floor to rob cash and valuables at the finance office.

Officials at GMCL said the pistol-wielding robbers first overpowered the guards on duty and threatened all staff and customers at gunpoint, to gather in a room before taking money from the cash vault.

According to GMCL staffer Pramila Singh, they collected over Rs 300,000 from the cash vault and snatched three gold chains and a mangalsutra (a golden necklace)

from bank staff within five minutes.

Their plan to flee the scene however was foiled by locals and police personnel who reached the robbery site. According to Chief of Lalitpur District Police Office (DPO) Madhav Prasad Nepal, at least four separate units of police from Pulchowk, Sanepa, Mangal Bazar and the DPO, Lalitpur were mobilized to nab the robbers soon after they were informed about the incident. "We succeeded in apprehending three of the four robbers within seven minutes," said SP Nepal.

Eyewitnesses said one of the robbers tried to jump off the terrace of a building next to the GMCL building as hundreds of locals and mobile police personnel encircled the GMCL office building. Two of the looters attempted to flee the scene by firing at least two rounds in the air. Police with the help of locals succeeded in arresting the trio. No one was injured in the incident.

According to DPO, Lalitpur, police recovered Rs 3,09,590 in cash, three gold rings, three automatic pistols with magazines and 11 bullets from the arrested trio.

Police also seized a Jialing motorcycle used by the robbers. Further investigations are continuing.

Suspend transaction of royal family lands

Parliament's Natural Resources Committee on Sunday asked the government to suspend transaction of land owned by royal family members until all necessary arrangements for taxing those is complete.

The committee chair Prakash Jwala asked Minister for Land Reforms and Management Prabhu Narayan Chaudhary to take initiatives in this regard.

Jwala said the measure was required as Minister Chaudhary's public remarks about imposing land ceiling has resulted in fake transaction of land to escape the new provision.

Minister Chaudhary said it was difficult to take such a measure through ministerial decision but he would take up the issue in the next cabinet meeting.

The committee also asked the government to furnish details on the land occupied by companies, industries and farms in which royal family members are shareholders.

The committee took the decision after its members were not satisfied with details on 39,378 ropanis of land - in the name of royal family members - provided by Land Reforms and Management Ministry officials during the Committee meeting.

Committee members said they wanted details on shares and other types of royal members' ownership of companies or factories and the land occupied by such companies, farms or factories for taxation purpose, following the House of Representatives decision to tax their income and property.

Ministry officials said they received details of royal family members' land from 12 districts but they are yet to get detailed information on how much land is under guthi (trust) and birta in the royal family's possession. The committee asked the ministry to take initiatives to register birta and guthi lands in the name of respective farmers.

"There are some policy confusions, as the system of birta lands was abolished in 1959 but the lands of royal family members were kept intact," said Khadga Gurung, a senior official at the ministry.

According to records provided by the ministry, the king owns 36,106 ropanis of land in 12 districts while the queen possesses 192 ropanis in Kathmandu Valley. Slain King Birendra owns only Gokarna forest and all his lands have been transferred to King Gyanendra on different dates in the past two years.

Committee members also said the they are planning to summon the Royal Palace's Chief Secretary and Secretary who looks after Palace affairs in the Royal Palace, to give details on other properties of royal family members.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Lack Of Consensus Delaying Interim Statute: Aryal

Coordinator of the Interim Constitution Drafting Committee, Laxman Prasad Aryal, has said that the committee’s work is being delayed due to a lack of consensus among the seven-party alliance (SPA) and the Maoists on important issues.

Speaking at an interaction in the capital on Saturday, Aryal said that the committee has urged the parties concerned to come up with a common agreement on the basic framework of the Constitution.

"We need their consensus on major issues of the monarchy, alternative to the Parliament and citizenship. I hope they will definitely reach an agreement on the pressing issues even if it takes time," Aryal added.

Aryal said that the ruling alliance and the Maoists should form common stance on the political issues since a poorly formulated interim statute could impede the path to the constituent assembly elections.

"We can produce the draft as soon as the parties concerned strike an agreement on the important issues," he said.

He even warned that his committee would stop drafting the statute if the concerned parties could not reach an understanding.

Assuring that the SPA and the Maoists will come up with an agreement on major issues, Maoist leader Dina Nath Sharma, however, said the inclusion of the monarchy in the interim constitution is unacceptable. "We will not have any elements of the constitutional or ceremonial monarchy in the interim constitution," said Sharma.

Members of the committee Agni Kharel and Pushpa Bhusal said the interim constitution was being drafted in line with the accords between the ruling alliance and the Maoists as well as the proclamation of the parliament.

Legal experts ask to guarantee independent of Judiciary in interim constitution
Legal experts have asked the Interim Constitution Drafting Committee to guarantee the independence of judiciary in the interim statute, saying it is essential to strengthen democracy.

Speaking at a programme in the capital on Saturday organized by Nepal Bar Council to mark the 30th Bar Council day, Attorney General Yagya Murti Banjade, said, “Independence of the judiciary is a must in the interim constitution because the judiciary has always played a crucial role in protecting the rights of the people.”

He added the judiciary had played a positive role even during the king’s direct rule and always delivered verdicts protecting fundamental rights.

Senior advocate Basudev Dhungana and Sarbagyaratna Tuladhar asked for more progressive provisions to secure the independence of the judiciary than granted by 1990 constitution.

Supreme Court justice, Kedar Prasad Giri, stressed the need of good relations between the bench and bar so that no one can threaten judiciary’s independence.

He further said that there should not be any obstacle in providing justice even during the state of emergency and added that pessimism will prevail in people if that was not guaranteed.

Members of the panel, Shambhu Thapa and Agni Kharel, expressed dissatisfaction over the government and Maoist talks teams for not giving serious attention towards the role of the panel.

Thapa stated that the law practitioners should stand in favor of independence of Judiciary adding if any attempt to hurt the independency of the Judiciary was made, it will push the country towards crisis.

The bar council awarded Dr Shankar Kumar Shrestha’s book “Victim’s Jurisprudence” with the best law book award of this year.

A team led by former Supreme Court Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal is drafting an interim constitution to incorporate Maoists into the interim constitution and to hold the elections of the constituent assembly.

137 suicide cases in past year in Kathmandu: Police

A total of one hundred and thirty seven people have committed suicide in the capital over the period of a year.

According to the valley crime investigation department, out of the 137, 107 resorted to hanging, 17 took poison, 6 shot themselves, 5 burned to death, and one opted for jumping while one took to slitting the throat.

According to the department, this month alone, the capital saw eight suicide cases. According to DSP Pradhumna Karki of the department, financial problems, family disputes, failures, momentary impulses, mental instability, disease, unrequited love, breakups, abuse and problems with in-laws are the prime motives behind most of these suicides.

Nationwide, three to four cases of suicides occur every day, the Police Headquarters said. Most of the suicide cases that occurred within the month in the valley primarily involved people above 35 years which included Professors, singers and prominent couples.

Meanwhile, the police have no satisfactory answers for motives behind cases of suicides involving middle aged, financially and socially established persons.

Friday, August 11, 2006

CJ leaves for Pakistan
Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel left for Pakistan on Thursday to participate in the International Judicial Conference to be organized on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Pakistani Supreme Court.
Discussions will be held on 17 topics, including implementing the international human rights values in the country, independent judiciary, the problem of judicial delays, the role of the judiciary in maintaining good governance, terrorism and corruption at the four-day Conference which is going to start from Friday. The slogan of the International Judicial Conference is 'Justice for All'.
CJs, judges and distinguished persons of the judicial sector from over 60 countries will attend the Conference.

King may be next in Raymajhi Commission

The Raymajhi Commission is likely to record King Gyanendra’s statement next week on his cabinet’s role in the suppression of the recent Jana Andolan the himalaya times reports .

The panel will seek his version about the role of the erstwhile cabinet in killing and suppressing people during Jana Andolan-II during which 21 people were killed and 6000 hurt.

“We are likely to record his statement next week,” a member of the Panel, Ram Prasad Shrestha, told . “Since we have completed recording statements of the other officials of the royal regime, now we want to know his role from him,” he said adding, “But what process we will adopt to record his statement has not yet been decided,” Shrestha also claimed that after recording the King’s statement the commission members would submit their report and make it public through the media.

“We want to meet the September 11 deadline,” he added. The government had recently extended the commission’s two-month tenure. King Gyanendra had chaired the cabinet meetings during his direct rule. Hence the panel decided to ask him for his version. “

A few ministers in the erstwhile royal cabinet had said that the King should take the moral responsibility for the suppression. “Thus we have to record the King’s statement,” Shrestha added. The panel has quizzed about 300 officials including the then vice-chairmen of the cabinet, Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirtinidhi Bista, the then home minister Kamal Thapa and ministers, Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) Pyar Jung Thapa and his deputy, General Rukmangat Katuwal.

Giri had told the commission that he was not ready to take the responsibility for suppressing the people as he had done nothing aimed at that, but Bista and Thapa said they were ready to take moral responsibility although they had tried to maintain law and order in the country. They claimed that they did not issue any shoot order.

The royal ministers, bureaucrats and the security officials, while recording their statements, made different claims. “Nobody is ready to take direct responsibility,” Shrestha added. “The ex-ministers told us that they had no hand in suppressing the people, but bureaucrats claimed that they just worked as per the orders that they got and the army officials claimed that the civil administration should take the responsibility because they had only backed the Nepal police,” Shrestha added.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Government, rebels send letter to UN

After long period of uncertainty, the government and the Maoists finally sent a joint letter the United Nations (UN) asking the global body to assist Nepal peace process.

Coordinator of the government and Maoists talks teams Krishna Prasad Sitaula and Krishna Bahadur Mahara handed over the joint letter to the Acting Chief of the UN system in Kathmandu Abraham Abraham from their side at the peace secretariat on Wednesday afternoon.

The government and Maoists today sent a joint letter to the UN inviting the world body to monitor and manage the arms and the armies of the Maoists and the Nepal Army, monitor the ceasefire code of conduct, monitor the human rights situation and observe and monitor the constituent assembly elections.

The letter undersigned by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and Maoist chairman Prachanda was handed over to Abraham Abraham, the chief of the UNHCR in Nepal, at a press conference at the Peace Secretariat at Singhdurbar.

The letter reads - " Further to the Eight-Point Understanding between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M) of June 16, 2006 and the commitment expressed by the Government of Nepal (GON) to the Agreement, the GON and the CPN-M hereby request the United Nations to provide its assistance as follows with a view to creating a free and fair atmosphere for the election of a Constituent Assembly and the entire peace process: continue its human rights monitoring through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR, Nepal) Assist the monitoring of the Code of Conduct during the Ceasefire.

On the basics of the agreement to seek UN assistance in the " the management of arms and armed personnel of both sides", deploy qualified civilian personnel to monitor and verify the confinement of CPN-M combatants and their weapons within designated cantonment areas. Later the modalities for all arrangements, including of arms and munitions, will be worked out among the parties and the UN.

Monitor the Nepal Army to ensure that it remains in its barracks and its weapons are not used for or against any side. The modalities will be worked out among the parties and the UN.

Provide election observation for the election of the Constituent Assembly in consultation with the parties.

Content of the joint letter sent to the UN

Further to the Eight-Point Understanding between the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (CPN-M) of June 16, 2006 and the commitment expressed by the Government of Nepal (GON) to the Agreement, the GON and the CPN-M heberby request the United Nations to provide its assistance as follows with a view to creating a free and fair atmosphere for the election of a Constituent Assembly and the entire peace process:
1. Continue its human rights monitoring through the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR, Nepal)

2. Assist the monitoring of the Code of Conduct during the ceasefire.

3. On the basis of the agreement to seek UN assistance in the “management of arms and armed personnel of both the sides”, deploy qualified civilian personnel to monitor and verify the confinement of CPN-M combatants and their weapons within designated cantonment areas. Later the modalities for all agreements, including of arms and munitions, will be worked out among the parties and the UN.

4. Monitor the Nepal Army to ensure that it remains in its barracks and its weapons are not used for or against any side. The modalities will be worked out among the parties and the UN.

5. Provide election observation for the election of the Constituent Assembly in consultation with the parties.

Drafting committee to submit draft of interim constitution by this week

The Interim Constitution Drafting Committee has deferred its programme to hand over the draft of the interim constitution to the talks teams of the government and the CPN (Maoist) until Friday.

Source said that the draft of the interim constitution could not be submitted to the talks teams for approval today because of the public holiday observed on the occasion of Janai Purnima. The committee was scheduled to hand over the draft of the interim statute this evening.

Though there were no official details about arrangements in the interim constitution, reports said the draft has proposed a one-house interim parliament while the fate of monarchy would be decide by the people in the elections to constituent assembly.

The draft has stated nothing as to who will promulgate the interim constitution. It has made provisions according to which new constitution should be introduced within one year from the introduction of interim constitution but the timeline could be extended up to 6 months if extraordinary situation arises.

The drafting committee headed by former Supreme Court Justice Laxman Aryal had been facing tough time finalising the draft as the political parties and Maoists failed to come up with their suggestions in time regarding the matters to be incorporated in the interim constitution.
Pappu Yadav Freed, Just For A While

Police on Tuesday rearrested Indian national Pappu Yadav, who was freed from the Central Jail after serving a three-year jail term, from outside the jail premises.

Dhak Bahadur Karki, Superintendent of Police at the Kathmandu District Police Office, said Yadav was rearrested on the charge of involvement in human trafficking.

He has been sent to the Morang District Police Office for furthering legal procedures, as the crime was committed in Morang, Karki said.Yadav was arrested in Kathmandu three years ago on the charge of smuggling arms and ammunition.

Probe committee finds army men guilty, recommends strong action

The committee formed to investigate the torturing of police officials by Nepal Army (NA) soldiers at the Bhairabnath Battalion on the night of July 28 has found the army men guilty and recommended strong action against a dozen army men.

Among the guilty army men recommended for action are Captain Robin Bikram Rana and Major Anil Khadka, who was the acting chief of the battalion when the incident happened.

Major Khadka is the son of former regional administrator Jagadish Khadka.

The government-formed committee, which submitted its report to Defense Secretary Bishnudutta Upreti on Monday, also cautioned the government to remain "watchful over the army giving and obeying false orders."

About 40 armed soldiers in uniform had forcefully taken control of three policemen- Inspector Ram Bahadur KC, Asst Sub Inspector Dharmendra Ray and Constable Dil Bahadur Tamang- from the Durbarmarg Ward Police Office, taken them to the battalion and thrashed them brutally at midnight on 28th July only an hour after a scuffle involving policemen on duty and drunken Captain Rana in Thamel.

The scuffle had resulted after the police had tried to remove Rana's wrongly parked private vehicle. Rana's friend Bikendra Bahadur Bist was injured in the incident.

The report will be made public by the defense ministry after a meeting with the investigation committee headed by joint secretary of the ministry, Kashinath Sharma.

After the incident, the NA had also formed a 'court of inquiry board' as per the Military Act under the coordination of Brig Gen Yadav Bahadur Rayamajhi to investigate the incident. Although preliminary investigation by the army had found Captain Rana guilty of misusing arms and uniform, nothing has been made public.
Probe panel grills 16 police officials

The high-level probe commission interrogated 16 police officials in connection with their alleged role in the excessive use of force during the people’s movement-II on Tuesday.

Four Superintendents of Police (SP), six Deputy Superintendents (DSP) and six Inspectors recorded their statements at the commission’s office at Harihar Bhawan, Lalitpur, today.

Most of the police officials who spoke to media persons after their questioning claimed that they were not involved in atrocities against the pro-democracy agitators. They said they only followed the orders of the government as required by their professional ethics.

Those interrogated by the commission include SPs Surendra Bahadur Shah, Tula Bahadur KC, Dhananda Bhatta, and Rajan Bahadur Bista and DSPs Basanta Lama, Manoj Neupane and Thule Rai. They were working at different places during the 19-day long people’s movement in April this year.

The probe commission has already interrogated the chiefs of the Nepali Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force, other senior security officials and suspended chiefs of three security agencies and the National Investigation Department.

At least 21 agitators were killed and over 4000 others wounded in clampdown on the movement by the erstwhile royal regime.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Interim statute draft ready

The Interim Constitution Draft Committee has prepared the final draft of the interim constitution in Dhulikhel.Members of the committee and staff of the Peace Secretariat stayed in the Dhulikhel Lodge Resort for four days from Thursday to Sunday to prepare the draft of the constitution.
The members and staff left for Kathmandu Sunday to discuss the legislature and the executive of the interim constitution.Coordinator of the committee and former justice Laxman Prasad Aryal said that the final draft was prepared on the basis of the suggestions and recommendations furnished by the political parties.The officials also said that the final draft of the interim constitution would be handed over to the talks teams of the government and the Maoists by Wednesday.
Aryal said the decision on the legislature and the executive could not be taken as the political parties had differing opinions and stuck to their stances. But, he said the final draft would be prepared only after the consent about the draft is taken from both the government and the Maoist.
The talks teams had extended the deadline of submitting the interim constitution by a week after the committee could not prepare the draft because of delay by the political parties to submit their suggestions.

15 police officers summoned by Probe commission

The high-level probe commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi is set to wrap of the interrogation of individuals suspected of involved in suppressing the people’s movement-II by the next one week.

Talking to reporters at the commission premises Monday, probe commission member Harihar Birahi said that the questioning would complete next week after the interrogation of a few individuals suspected of playing role in the use of excessive force during the pro-democracy movement.

The commission has already recorded statements of some 100 persons including the then vice-chairman-duo of the erstwhile royal regime, Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirti Nidhi Bista, former ministers, Nepali Army chief Pyar Jung Thapa and other incumbent and former top security officials for their alleged role against the 19-day agitation in April this year.

Most of those quizzed by the commission were known supporters of King Gyanendra’s direct rule. At least 21 people had lost their lives and over 4000 others were injured in the royal regime’s clampdown on the movement.

The high-level probe commission formed on May 06 had got two more months to send its investigation report, with recommendations, on July 06. As part of its investigation, the five-member commission has already conducted field study in various districts in all five regions where atrocities took place during movement.

Commission chief Rayamajhi claimed at several public forums that the probe body had authority to summon and interrogate the King in connection with the suppression during the movement but sources say the commission is far from going to that extent.

Meanwhile, the commission today summoned 19 police officials for interrogation on Tuesday. Those summoned for interrogation are four Superintendents of Police, six Deputy Superintendents and five Inspectors

Monday, August 07, 2006

Competition bill tabled

After missing the enactment commitment at WTO by over two years, the government last week tabled Competition Bill at the Parliament for approval.

But the Bill, already endorsed by the Cabinet, drew criticism from parliamentarians for dropping the original idea of constituting an autonomous and independent competition authority to check anti-competitive practices in the market.

"The absence of a strong authority has raised question over the effectiveness of the Bill at the very onset," said Speaker Subash Nembang.

Commenting on the Bill at a program on Saturday, Nembang charged that the bill has simply failed to incorporate the core principle of competition. He added that the constitution of a Competition Board led by the Commerce Secretary would leave the Act as ineffective as Consumer Rights Protection Act.

He was referring to the provision of the Act, which says that a Competition Board would be set up to promote competition and check anticompetitive practices in the market.

"The Board will be headed by the Commerce Secretary along with two members from different ministries and a representative from Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry," reads the Bill.

The Bill has also disburdened the Board from quasi-judicial duties, which was originally mooted for the then proposed competition authority.

It has assigned the Board with tasks like providing various recommendations to the government as and when needed, working to raise public awareness and conducting regular market inspection.

"The drawback of the Bill is that it has failed to envisage an autonomous, strong and effective body equipped with quasi-judicial authority to enforce the Act," said Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi, coordinator of Competition Project, South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment.
Among others, the Bill has proposed appointment of a competition inspector by the Board to monitor the market and investigate cases filed against unfair play. "After investigating, he will file a case at the court for verdict," states the Bill.

The Bill has also provisioned a fine up to Rs 500,000 for the party guilty of resorting to anti-competitive practices. It has incorporated a provision of compensation, whereby the company resorting to anti-competitive practice would need to compensate the party hurt due to unfair play.

"Liability of compensation will arise only after the court decides on the case," reads the Bill.

The Bill has, among others, defined anti-competitive practices such as monopoly, market leadership, tied-selling, predatory pricing and bid rigging among others, and barred business players from practicing those.

It has barred merger and acquisition of companies if merger and acquisition raises the companies' individual market holding over 40 percent.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Govt. makes public details of land owned by the royalties

Officials say they have compiled details of over 3,400 ropanis of land (approx. 1,700 hectares) owned by King Gyanendra and other members of the royal family so far.

Presenting report of the findings at the Natural Resources committee of the House of Representatives on Friday, Minister of Land Reforms and Management, Prabhu Narayan Chaudhari, said over 20,000 ropanis of Nagarjun at the outskirts of Kathmandu was owned by the king as his private property. He said the king owned nearly 9,000 ropanis of land in Kathmandu alone.

The minister said the king owned 34 bighas of land in Latikoili VDC in mid-western district of Surkhet and land holdings in Makwanpur, Gorkha, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu districts also.

According to information compiled by the Ministry and made public today, late king Birendra owned over 3,000 ropanis of land as forest area in Kathmandu. Details were not available.

The minister said he has already directed all the land revenue offices across the country to compile details of the royal property and send it to the ministry as soon as possible.

Members of the parliamentary committee rapped the minister for what they said incomplete details of the royal property and asked the minister to report to the committee on Sunday, August 13, with full details.

In its proclamation on May 18, the House of Representatives had made royal income and private property of the king and royal family members taxable.

According to the five-year-old amendment in the Land Reforms Act, people are allowed to own 25 ropanis of land in the capital valley, up to 70 ropanis of land in the hills and up to ten bighas of land in the terai.

Officials have not said what will happen to the excess land owned by the royal family members.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Rayamajhi Commission Grills Dy Chief of Army
The High-Level Investigation Commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi today grilled Lt Gen Rukmagat Katuwal for his alleged role to suppress the April democracy movement.

Katuwal reached the commission's office to record his statement at 11:30 am. He declined to talk to the reporters present there.

Talking to journalists after filing his statement, Katawal said that he had given a statement similar to the Chief of the Army Staff.

He further said that the army performed its duty as per the directives of the then government.
Katawal added that the NA has to perform its duty as per the directives of the government, notwithstanding the type of government or political system.

The High Level Probe Commission also grilled former valley division chief of the NA Deepak Bikram Rana for their alleged role on suppressing the April movement.

Talking to journalists before filing his statement, Rana said that he came to file the statement as per the directive of the commission.

Both of them deferred Monday's summon saying they would file statement only after Chief of the Army Staff filed his statement, according to the defense ministry.

Try guilty army men in civil Court: Rights body

The Human Rights Treaty Monitoring Coordination Committee has called on the authorities concerned to suspend Nepal Army’s Bhairabnath Battalion chief Rajendra Jung Khatri, Captain Robin Bikram Rana and others involved in torturing police personnel and try them in civil court.
Releasing its finding report in the capital Thursday, the committee also demanded adequate compensation for the three police victims.

The report said that the incident was the result of the high-handedness and indiscipline exhibited by NA’s captain Rana and his colleagues at the Bhairabnath Battalion.

The committee’s investigation found that Captain Rana fled the scene after a squabble with police on the night of July 28 on the matter of parking a car in Thamel, while police took Rana’s friend Bikendra Bista to Durbar Marg police station.

Rana returned with 40 armed Nepal Army personnel, surrounded the police station and forcefully took away police inspector Ram Bahadur KC, ASI Dhamendra Rai and police personnel Dil Bahadur Tamang to Bhairabnath battalion and tortured them, the report said.

The report quoted major of the Battalion Santosh Pandey as saying that they have not received a formal letter on the suspension of the main perpetrator of the incident Captain Robin Bikram Rana, according to reports

Thursday, August 03, 2006

CoAS Thapa appears in Rayamajhi Commission
The High-Level Investigation Commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi today grilled the Chief of Army Staff Gen Pyar Jung Thapa for his alleged role in suppressing the Jana Andolan II.
Testifying before the High Level Probe Commission (HLPC) in connection with his alleged role in suppressing the April movement, Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) General Pyar Jung Thapa said on Thursday that the Nepal Army (NA) was not mobilized to suppress the democratic movement.
"We tried to help to restore peace and maintain law and order," CoAS Thapa said after the grilling. "It is the state's duty to maintain law and order."

Questioned on the operations of the Unified Command during the movement which left 21 dead the CoAS said, "It is sad that people lost their lives but 900 lives were lost on our side (army) too."

We were also fighting the Maoists during the protests, Thapa added. The CoAS was the head of the Unified Command during the April movement.
Thapa reached the commission office at 11:30 am to record his statement."I am attending the commission to record my statement", he told reporters present at the premises of commission's office. Media persons could not speak to CoAS as security forces did not allow journalists to come near Thapa. The commission had sent a second letter to Thapa asking him to attend the commission after he deferred summon of the panel citing official trip to Pokhara last week.

Thapa faces accusations of aiding the king in his autocratic rule by distorting the reports received from different security bodies.

This is the first time the army top brass has been to the HLPC for interrogation, though former and incumbent IGPs of the Armed Police Force and the Nepal Police, and over four dozen others including ministers and administrators of the erstwhile royal government have already been quizzed over their alleged roles in the atrocities committed during the pro-democracy movement.
The high level commission has also already interrogated former Speaker Taranath Ranabhat, former Chief Justice Hari Prasad Sharma and other royal advisors.
Court denies interim order on GM appointment

The Supreme Court denied to issue an interim order on a writ petition against newly appointed general manager of Agricultural Development Bank Yogeshor Panta filed by former general manager Hari Gopal Gorkhali.
There are no sufficient grounds to issue the order as demanded by petitioner, as Yogeshor Panta has already assumed the responsibility of the position, said the order issued by the bench comprising of Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel and Justice Kedar Prasad Giri.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Army chief summoned again

The High Level Probe Commission Monday summoned army chief Pyar Jung Thapa for the second time for interrogation over his alleged role as head of the then Unified Command in suppressing the people's movement in April. Thapa has been asked to be present before the commission on Thursday.

Earlier, the commission had planned to interrogate Thapa on Sunday but Thapa did not turn up before the commission saying he had to go Pokhara for a "pre-planned" program. Meanwhile, Lieutenant General of Nepal Army Rukmangat Katuwal and retired general Dipak Bikram Rana also did not present themselves before the commission on Monday, as summoned by the commission. A letter sent to the commission by the Defense Ministry said the other army officers summoned for interrogation would not submit their statements until their chief is questioned.

According to a commission source, if Thapa misses the second summon, the commission would write to the government to "make Thapa available" before the commission for interrogation.

First born to become heir to the throne

In a historic decision, the cabinet on Monday approved a bill, allowing the eldest child of the monarch to become heir to the throne irrespective of gender. As per this decision, Purnika, Crown Prince Paras' eldest child (daughter) - not Hridayendra (his son), will be heir to the throne.

The Bill passed by the cabinet in principle will be tabled in the ongoing session of the House of Representatives, said Dilendra Prasad Badu, the Minister of State for Information and Communications, who is also the government spokesperson. However, the Bill is yet to be endorsed by the House - which is almost certain - before it becomes a law.

The Bill has proposed that a committee headed by the Prime Minister will be set up in the parliament to select the heir. The committee comprises the Chief Justice, the Speaker and Opposition leader in the House, Law Minister, Royal Palace Affairs Minister, Defense Minister, Home Minister, Chairman of Parliamentary State Affairs Committee and representatives of all parties represented in the House.

The momentous May 18 HoR Proclamation had curtailed drastically the King's exclusive powers to formulate the Heir to the Throne Law and had declared the House itself as the body to do so.
The cabinet also amended the law on Royal Household Expenditure, limiting the recipients of state facilities and allowances to the king, queen, crown prince, crown princess, yubarani (in case of the eldest daughter ascending to the throne) and the queen mother.

Though the yubarani will subsequently ascend the throne, her husband will however not be entitled to the facilities.