Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Arrested royalist ministers handed 3-month detention warrants

Three former ministers, who have been arrested on charges of instigating violence in Terai, were handed three-month detention warrants on Wednesday.

The district administrations of Kathmandu and Morang issued detention warrants to former ministers Kamal Thapa, Salim Miya Ansari and Badri Madal under the Public Security Act.

Thapa, the powerful interior minister of the erstwhile royal government, and Ansari were arrested from their residences in the capital while Badri Mandal was arrested in his hometown, Biratnagar. Mandal was shifted to the jail from police custody today.

The three royalist ministers were taken into custody on Monday night and Tuesday morning on suspicion of sanctioning miscreants to foment unrest during the protests carried by Madhesi groups in eastern and southern Terai districts.

Some 80 others, mostly the members of the erstwhile royal cabinet and King's aides, are under the government's watch list, who could be arrested any time, according to reports.

Eight people have died and dozens others injured in ensuing unrest in the Terai flatlands over the last few days

PM, NBA yet to Pick Representatives for JC

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) are yet to nominate their representatives for the Judicial Council (JC).

"Judicial administration has been affected due to delay in the appointment of ex-officio members of the council headed by the Chief Justice," a JC source said.
According to Article 113 of the Interim Constitution, the Judicial Council recommends and offers advice to the government regarding appointment and transfer of, disciplinary action against, and dismissal of judges, and other matters relating to judicial administration.

The five-member council comprises Chief Justice, Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the senior most judge of the Supreme Court, a senior advocate, or an advocate who has at least 20 years of experience to be appointed by the Chief Justice on the recommendation of the NBA, and a person to be nominated by the Prime Minister.

According to a central committee member of the NBA, Tika Ram Bhattarai, the NBA has not been asked by the authorities concerned to nominate its representative for the Judicial Council. "Neither the Chief Justice nor the Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs has asked us to nominate our representative," Bhattarai added.

"Though we have not faced serious problem due to lack of officials as of now, formation of a new team is needed as per the Interim Constitution," secretary of the Judicial Council, Prakash Kumar Dhungana, said.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ICJ Call to Ratify Convention on Disappearances

The International Commission of Jurists on Monday urged the government to reaffirm its commitment to check disappearances by ratifying the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances and formulating laws to implement the provisions of the convention.

ICJ also urged the government to investigate allegations of past disappearances and try the rights violators in civil courts.

"Given the history of enforced disappearances in Nepal, ratifying the international convention would be a historic step," said Nicholas Howen, the ICJ secretary General. The ICJ also pointed out 2,028 cases of disappearance and the situation of 645 disappeared persons highlighted by the National Human Rights Commission.

The ICJ also urged the government to implement the provisions of the Interim Constitution that ensure relief for the families of the victims.

Monday, January 29, 2007

SC show cause to govt

The Supreme Court on Sunday ordered the government to furnish a written reply regarding the agreement with transport entrepreneurs last week.

Taking up a public interest litigation, Justice Kalyan Shrestha also ordered the government and transport entrepreneurs to be present before the court within seven days.

General Secretary of Consumers' Forum Jyoti Baniya moved the apex court last Friday over the agreement.

Baniya argued before the court that the agreement allowing transport entrepreneurs to pay only Rs 75,000 instead of the existing Rs 300,000 as compensation to victims of vehicular accidents was irrational. Similarly, the writ petition claimed the government decision to waive 75 percent tax for entrepreneurs was unjustifiable.

SC notice on married girls’ share

The Supreme Court today issued show cause notices to government authorities, including the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Cabinet, and wanted to know why married daughters should not be given share of parental property.

A single bench of Justice Kalyan Shrestha issued show cause notices following today’s hearing. The bench gave 15 days’ time to the PMO, the Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and the Secretariat of the Legislature-Parliament to send their answers to the SC.

The bench also issued show cause notices to the same authorities and wanted to know why equal property rights should not be given to married and unmarried daughters in the case of termination of genealogy. The bench has put both the issues on priority list.

The bench was responding to separate Public Interest Litigations filed by advocates Sapana Pradhan Malla and Meera Dhungana challenging the Section 1(a) of the Parental Property Chapter of the amended Civil Code 1963 and Section 2 regarding termination of genealogy.

According to Section 1(a) of the Parental Property Chapter, married daughters are prevented from having a share of parental property and married daughters are not given priority to claim share of the property under Section (2) in case of termination of genealogy.

The advocates have challenged that parental property should be shared even by married daughters and called for an apex court order to provide share of property to married daughters by scrapping the current provisions.

According to Section 2 regarding termination of Genealogy, the property goes to husband, wife, son, unmarried daughter, grandson, and married daughter, in that order. The advocates claimed that it is discrimination between married and unmarried daughters.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Consumer body moves SC over transport accord

Consumers' Rights Forum Friday moved the Supreme Court over the agreement reached between the government and transport entrepreneurs.

The government and the entrepreneurs had inked a 13-point agreement to end the transport strike early this week.

According to the agreement, transport entrepreneurs will have to pay compensation of only Rs 75,000 to the victims of vehicle accidents in place of the existing Rs 300,000. Besides, the government had agreed to the entrepreneurs' demand to waive 75 per cent of tax. The writ petition argues that the agreement violates the government's past decision on banning 20-year old vehicles from plying in the Valley.

The Forum stated that these points in the agreement have violated consumer rights and urged the apex court to intervene.

Lawyers’ concern

Lawyers on Thursday submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet appealing to the government not to authorise the mobile citizenship distribution teams to give away naturalised citizenship certificates. The lawyers claimed that it is the authority of the Home Ministry to distribute the naturalised citizenship certificates as per the Interim Constitution 2007 and Nepal Citizenship Act, 2006 and that any subordinate body under the Ministry cannot exercise the authority. “We have submitted the memorandum along with the signatures of 500 lawyers,” central committee member of the Nepal Bar Association Tika Ram Bhattarai said on Friday.
SC notices to govt on corporal punishment rule
The Supreme Court on friday issued show cause notices to the government authorities, including Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet (PMO), seeking their written explanations within 15 days about the existence of a provision on corporal punishment in the Prison Act 1962.A single bench of Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi issued the order responding to a writ petition filed by advocate Achyut Prasad Kharel. The bench also set a 15-day time frame to the authorities — the PMO, the Ministry of Home and Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Secretariat of the Legislature-Parliament — to submit their affidavits.The petitioner claimed that Section 22 (2) of the Prison Act 1962 has adopted the corporal punishment against the Convention against Torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (CAT) 1984 and the Article 26 (1) of the Interim Constitution 2007.

SC Moved to Make Public Rayamajhi Panel Report

A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed on Friday at the Supreme Court seeking its order to the government to make public and implement the report prepared by the High-Level Investigation Commission.The commission headed by former Supreme Court Justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi had probed the suppression of Jana Andolan-II. The commission had submitted its report to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala.Advocates Chandra Kanta Gyawali, Arun Gyawali, Raj Kumar Dhakal and Bimal Gyawali filed the petition.Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, Prime Minister's Office and Cabinet (PMO) and Deputy Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and the team lead by him to investigate on Rayamajhi report have been made defendants in the petition.The petitioners also sought the apex court order to the government to prosecute those accused by the Rayamajhi report of rights violations and misuse of the state treasury to suppress people during the Jana Andolan-II.The petitioners also accused the PMO of not giving them the report despite their request. "Though the report was a matter of public concern, the government did not give us the report. Demanding that the report be given to us, we had filed a petition," the petitioners said."When we went to the PMO demanding a copy of the report, they refused to give it to us. They said it was not the matter of our concern. Now, we have no option except to seek the apex court intervention," the petitioners claimed in the PIL.They also claimed that the report is a matter of public concern as per Article 27 of the Interim Constitution, Article 19(2)(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 and Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.The commission, which handed over the report to PM Koirala on November 20, has recommended the government to take action against 202 people.The commission had investigated the suppression of the pro-democratic people by the royal regime after King Gyanendra seized the executive powers on February 1, 2005."Since the government did not do anything to take action against the guilty and make the report public, there is an urgent need for the apex court to intervene on the matter as per the Article 32 and 107 of the Interim Constitution," the petitioners added.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Panel to draft Legislature Regulations

The Interim Legislature has formed a committee to draft Interim Legislature Regulations under the coordination of Purna Bahadur Khadka.

Today's session of the House approved a proposal tabled by MP Mahendra Bahadur Pandey and backed by Dinanath Sharma regarding formation of the 17-member committee.

The committee members include Amrita Thapa, Ashta Laxmi Shakya (Bohara), Aamod Prasad Upadhyaya, Uma Adhikari (Regmi), Khimlal Devkota, Ganesh Shah, Govinda Bikram Shah, Navaraj Subedi, Parshuram Meghi Gurung, Yagyajit Shah, Rajendra Mahato, Radheshyam Adhikari, Renu Kumari Yadav, Lilamani Pokhrel, Sunil Prajapati and Hari Acharya.

The committee has been authorised to manage its working procedure itself and seek help from anyone if need be. The committee may take as long as it needs to finish the task.

SC directs the government to prevent child marriages

The Supreme Court has issued a directive to the government authorities to strictly implement the punishment provision under the Marriage Chapter of Civil Code (Muluki Ain) 1963 to control child marriage.

Acting upon a writ petition filed by a group of advocates including Prakash Mani Sharma of Pro Public, an NGO, special bench of Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Sharada Shrestha and Balram KC issued the verdict.

“Effectively implement the punishment provision under this chapter,” the bench ordered. The bench also directed the government authorities—the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare—to amend the provision and to launch awareness programme against child marriages. The bench also ordered to adopt advices given by study teams in this regards, reports said.

The bench also scrapped Sub-section 9 of Section 2 under the Marriage Chapter which states that a person can move court only after attaining 18 years of age if he or she knot ties under the age of 18 and wants to null and void the marriage.

The 1963 code has prohibited marriage under the age of 18 without the consent of their guardian.

If anyone less than 10s year old got married, their guardians may face up to 3 years jail sentence and up to Rs 10,000 fine.

Guardians will face up to one year jail term if the age of bride or groom is between 10 to 14 years and guardian may face up to six months jail term and up to Rs 10,000 fine if a 14 to 18 years old person gets married.

Priest and other aides of such illegal marriage may face up to one moth jail sentence or Rs 1,000 fine on charge of encouraging such illegal marriage as per section 2 of the Marriage Chapter

ICJ hails provision to make NHRC as constitutional body

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has welcomed the provision in the interim constitution to recognise the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as a constitutional body and urged the government and the future Constituent Assembly to address the concerns about the appointments procedure.

“Making the NHRC a constitutional body will bring a welcome increase in the stability and authority of the Commission,” a press release issued by the ICJ quoted Secretary-General of the ICJ Nicholas Howen as saying.

“However, the procedure of appointing Commissioners set out in the Interim Constitution is too dominated by the executive and will weaken it as a body that should be truly independent of the government,” he continued.

“To be recognised as a legitimate national institution, a human rights commission needs to comply with the letter and spirit of the Principles Relating to the Status and Functioning of National Institutions for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (Paris Principles), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 48/134 on 20 December 1993,” the statement added.

The interim constitution has the provision that the Constitutional Council, comprised of the Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker of the legislature and three ministers designated by the Prime Minister will appoint the Chief Commissioner and Commissioners of the NHRC.

The ICJ is concerned that this could also adversely impact on appointments to other constitutional bodies, the statement added.

Saying that the Interim Constitution provides that prior to the appointment of officials to constitutional bodies, a parliamentary hearing must be held, Nicholas Howen added, “Public parliamentary debate is a significant step in ensuring that transparent, consultative and participatory appointments are made to constitutional bodies, such as Nepal's National Human Rights Commission.”

Howen further said that an independent and effective NHRC is important to help ensure the political environment in the coming year that allows free and fair debate and elections, and that all parts of society are able to participate freely in the critical discussions ahead.

“The NHRC will have to monitor the actions of the government and all security forces, intervene to protect human rights and speak out in public. This will require a Commission that is not beholden to any political interests and that will act without fear or favour,” Howen added.

The ICJ also welcomed the continued efforts of the staff of the NHRC, in difficult circumstances, to promote and protect human rights and also called on the future interim cabinet to follow up on the recommendations of the NHRC.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

SC okays NA re-tender bid

The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday said that the Nepali Army (NA) could proceed with its re-tender for ration supply for its forces in Jumla.

With this verdict, the apex court has put to rest all controversy over the NA ration supply tenders. Quashing a writ petition over the controversy, Justices Ram Prasad Shrestha and Tahir Ali Ansari said that NA's re-tender move was "legal", and the court need not intervene as sought by the plaintiffs.

The controversy surfaced after news media in December reported irregularities in the awarding of tenders in a half dozen districts in the mid-western region. The army had then cancelled the first tender and called for a fresh one, prompting the winners of the first tender to move the courts.

An investigation by NA also found irregularities in awarding the first tenders, providing a basis for its bid for fresh tenders.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Minister's order cannot overrule legal provisions, say lawyers
Lawyers have started a signature campaign denouncing the decision of the Home Ministry to authorise teams to distribute naturalised citizenship.
The lawyers have also asked the government and the political parties to withdraw the decision.
The campaign, signed by over 300 lawyers, states "to distribute naturalised citizenship - which can be given to foreigners only after fulfilling certain bases and procedures - under pressure from a crowd will jeopardise nationalism."
The campaign is led by lawyers duo Tikaram Bhattarai and Bhimarjun Acharya.
Talking to Nepalnews, Acharya said that the order given by Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula authorising the teams to distribute naturalised citizenship is against the law.
"Even the new Citizenship Act and its Rules have specified the fulfillment of a number of rigorous procedures before a Chief District Officer can confer naturalised citizenship to any foreigner. The Section 5 of the Act and Rule 7 clearly stipulate such procedures. Then how can a Home Minister's order overrule these legal provisions?" Acharya asked.
According to Acharya, bowing down to pressures of crowd could hurt the national identity.
He said that the campaign will collect more signatures (from law practitioners) on Wednesday and then they will be submitted to the Speaker and the Prime Minister on Thursday.
The government has currently dispatched teams across the country to distribute citizenship certificate. Although earlier the teams were only authorised to distribute citizenship based on birth, Sitaula recently instructed teams to also distribute naturalised citizenship.
UNSC adopts Nepal resolution

The United Nations (UN) Security Council on Tuesday adopted a resolution tabled by Secretary General authorizing establishment of the United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN).
The resolution decided to dispatch a UN mission that will monitor implementation of the peace agreement and disarmament of parties in Nepal.
The UN political mission in Nepal, under the leadership of UN Secretary General's personal representative, Ian Martin, will have a 12-month mandate to monitor "the management of arms and armed personnel of both sides, in line with the provision of the comprehensive peace agreement." the Security Council said in adopting the resolution.
The UNMIN will have five mandates. The UN teams have already started verification of Maoist arms and armies.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Government forms high level commission to probe Lahan incident
The government has formed a three-member high level commission to probe the violent incidences that have wreaked Lahan for the past few days.
According to the statement issued by the Home Ministry, the commission will be headed by Janardan Bahadur Khadka, judge at the Patan Appellate Court. Other members of the commission include joint attorney general RN Pathak and Additional Inspector General of Police Rabindra Pratap Shah.
The commission has been asked to submit its report within fifteen days.
Likewise, the Ministry has also announced compensation of Rs 1 million to the family of one Ramesh Mahato who was killed in a firing in Lahan two days ago.
The meeting of the eight party leaders in the morning had asked the government to form a high level commission to investigate the Lahan incident and provide compensation to victims.
Maoist court slaps Rs 115,000 ‘fine’
Violating party Chairman Prachanda's directives to dissolve all units of their "people's court" and "people's government", a Maoist kangaroo court in Kailali slapped Rs 115,000 fine on one Bhagiram Chaudhary here kantipur reports.
On Saturday, four Maoists reached Chaudhary's house in Pahalmanpur and forced him to be present at their kangaroo court where they kept Chaudhary under their control for seven hours. The former rebels later released Chaudhary on the condition that the latter would pay the sum.
The Maoists have threatened to abduct and detain him in their camp if he failed to pay the "fine". "They freed me after asking several questions that created psychological tension," he said.
The Maoists had presented him at their court when a local Bajari Shing Bam lodged a complaint at the Maoist court against Chaudhary requesting the Maoists to recover Rs 147,000 debt "owed by his father Bishnu Chaudhary" about four years ago.
Bishnu, a supporter of CPN-UML, was killed by Maoists in the past due to his political faith.
A member of Maoist kangaroo court Suyog said they took him under their control for investigation as the case was lodged before dissolving the kangaroo court.
Prachanda had scrapped all units of such "courts" and "governments" on Thursday.
13 ex-securitymen to face charge

The District Police Office (DPO) Chitwan on Sunday filed a case under the Public Offense Act against 13 ex-security personnel, following their arrest for vandalizing public vehicles on Saturday.
The 13 persons, who had earlier served in the army and police force, vandalized 26 vehicles at Pulchowk while demanding reinstatement of their jobs.
They had quit their job during Maoist insurgency. Forming a struggle committee, these "deserters" had protested in the district on Friday and Saturday.
According to DPO, protestors had also blocked vehicular movement at Pulchowk of Narayangadh Saturday. Talking to journalists, Deputy Superintendent of Police Maya Kumar Shah informed that police filed the case as they were found guilty of vandalism that resulted in loss of around 254,000 rupees.
Chairman of the struggle committee Meghnath Adhikari, however, refuted the police claim.
A day without computers in Supreme Court
Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel was unaware of what was happening at the benches on Sunday. He was also unable to know of orders and verdicts judges passed on the day kantipur reports .
Not only was the CJ finding himself helpless, even the employees were confused. "Sir, we are unable to perform our task, is there any solution?" An employee asked Deepak Timalsena, technical director of the Supreme Court.
The until-recently traditional apex court of Nepal faced a unique problem today as employees could not switch on the computers. Thanks to power failure.
The court staff could not update Monday's causa list -- information on the cases to be heard on a particular day --, provide dates, register cases and update the status of cases scheduled to be heard on Sunday.
The court staff, so used to handling big registers until two months ago were strolling around and passing time basking in the sun. They had no clue as to what to do without computers.
Computerization, completed only two months ago, has already made the Supreme Court its slave.
These days, lawyers and people do not need to check daily causa list being by physically present at the court. The "daily roster" is now a click away, and can be accessed from anywhere where there is access to the Internet.
Besides, people and lawyers can know the status of their cases, and even know the exact location of their files in the shelves of the court from their homes.
One can feel the modernization of the apex court as soon as s/he enters the court premises. Status of a particular case at a bench can be seen in the four display boards hung at different locations of the court building.
Nepal Bar Association is also going to have one display board shortly while the Office of the Attorney General already has one.
Chief Justice Poudel acknowledges that technology has been a boon for him. Poudel said he no longer has to ask judges about orders and verdicts on particular cases. "I can read orders and verdicts on my computer, and know what is happening at the benches on this display board," he said pointing to a display board hung on the wall of his office room.
"Efforts are underway to set up a cable television so that stakeholders [of the judiciary] can know the status of their case on the television monitor," he added.
Similarly, soon the CJ will be assigning cases to judges for hearing on a particular day right from his residence at Baluwatar.
Despite such dependence on the computers, how come they have no power back up? "We do have big UPS for servers and every computer has back up for 20 minutes. There is also a generator. Unfortunately even the generator is not working today, so the mess," said Timalsena.
Govt indifferent to rights abuses: NHRC

National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) alleged that government and the Maoists were turning deaf ears to the applications and recommendations by the commission in relation with series of incidents on rights violation.
The present democratic government also have been indifferent to human rights as it used to be with the previous governments, said Dhruba Nepal, the officiating secretary at the NHRC .
The allegation has come when UN High Commission for Human Rights, Luise Arbour has expressed concern about the human right situation of Nepal after the beginning of the peace process. “So much so, we have not been able to give justice to member of our own staff, who was killed by police action at the government oppression during the king’s direct rule,” he said.
Out of 147 cases of recommendations made by the NHRC to the government, only 44 were partially or fully implemented.
“Out of 48 recommendations of actions for extra judicial killings by security force only two were implemented and of 13 recommendations over Maoist killing only two were partially implemented,” states report released .
The NHRC have completed investigations on 870 complaints of which 337 cases are related with disappearance made by the security forces, 279 cases of abduction by Maoists, 28 murders by security forces and 14 murders by Maoists. NHRC received 975 complains of violation of human rights from July 17, 2006 to Jan 14 this year.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Clause on no-trust motion sought in interim statute
Legal experts said that there should be a provision of “no-confidence” motion in the interim constitution to remove the prime minister otherwise the head of the government may become a dictator.
Addressing a programme at the Reporters’ Club, lawmaker and former president of the Nepal Bar Association Radheshyam Adhikari said: “There is no constitutional provision under which the prime minister can be removed by the legislative body through a vote of no-confidence. The interim constitution is a document of political understanding. If political understanding among the parties concerned is broken there should be a provision of removing the PM through a no-confidence motion.”
He said that the PM seemed to be the de facto head of the state as the interim constitution has stripped off all powers of the king till an election to a constituent assembly. “The PM should not be made so powerful that he cannot be removed constitutionally by the legislative body,” he said.
Newly elected president of the Nepal Bar Association Bishwokant Mainali said that the interim constitution could not be judged from constitutional principle, “as it is a document of political understanding among parties who fought for democracy”.
“Some of the clauses of the interim constitution are undemocratic and autocratic. They need to be amended before the nation goes for constituent assembly elections, otherwise NBA would take to the streets,” Mainali said. He said that it was not appropriate to swear in the chief justice of the Supreme Court by the prime minister who is the head of the government.
“I would have suggested that the SC justice should have taken oath of office before the constitutional council,” he said. He, however, conceded the fact that there was room for amendment in the interim constitution as the PM himself had assured of making amendments in it in due course of time.
NBA general secretary Raman Shrestha said, “One of the best aspects of the interim constitution is that it is the first time in Nepal’s history that a constitution has been declared by the people, who can also make amendments, if need be.”

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Ex-minister denies role in forming RCCC

Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs of then royal cabinet, Niranjan Thapa has denied his role in formation of dissolved Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC).Filing his statement before the high level commission formed to probe the excessive force used by the RCCC against the democratic leaders, Minister Thapa denied that he had any role in the formation of the dissolved Commission.Reports quoted one of the members of the commission as saying that Thapa claimed that he was working as the chairman of the Nepal Law Reform Commission at the time of the formation of the RCCC and later became Law Minister, adding, "He said he was not involved in the formation of the RCCC.” “I don’t know who designed the RCCC, but I forwarded a proposal at the Cabinet meeting, calling for extension of RCCC’s tenure,” the member quoted Thapa as saying. The member also said that Thapa denied taking action against democratic leaders.According to information gathered by the commission, Thapa had played a key role in designing the RCCC with the intention to implicate democratic leaders in corruption cases. The government formed following the success of the Jana Andolan (People's Movement) II has formed a commission headed by former Appellate Court Judge Madhav Prasad Ojha to probe the excesses committed by RCCC against the democratic leaders.The RCCC detained former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuwa and former Minister Prakash Man Singh and also interrogated leaders and high ranking officials.The commission is scheduled to submit its report to the government in a week.

Friday, January 19, 2007

CJ Poudel administers oath of office to Justices

Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel administered the oath of office and secrecy to all Justices of the Supreme Court as per the Interim Constitution 2007.

Poudel administered oath of office and secrecy to 11 permanent Justices of the apex court in the first phase and seven temporary Justices in the second phase amidst a function held at Poudel’s office this morning.

CJ Poudel himself took the oath of office and secrecy from Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on Thursday.

According to Article 162 (2) of the Interim Constitution promulgated on January 15, all judges need to take fresh oath of office and the judges who fail to do so will be automatically dismissed from their posts.

A special Cabinet meeting on Wednesday had decided that the CJ should take the oath of office from the PM and that the CJ would administer the oath of office to other SC justices.
Lawyers urge PM to take fresh oath
Constitutional experts have urged Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to take the oath of office in the Legislative Parliament, saying political leaders have introduced the mandatory oath taking provision to control judges.

The PM should have sworn in Chief Justice only after taking the oath of office under the new constitution, constitutional lawyer Purna Man Shakya told .

“No one is above the constitution. Every official should take oath under this constitution. The PM is not above the Interim Constitution.”

Though Koirala had taken oath in the parliament as an MP of the interim legislature, he is yet to take the oath of office under the constitution as prime minister. “How can the Chief Justice and justices, who are the real protectors of the constitution, be required to take the oath under the constitution, while the PM is not required to take the oath?” Shakya questioned.

“Every official should take oath after the promulgation of a new constitution.” Through oath-taking, politicians want to control the judges, an SC justice said.

A senior advocate, Basudev Dhungana, termed the decision to make it mandatory for judges to take fresh oath “a political decision”.
He, however, said, “Since the PM and other officials took fresh oath after the movement, they might not want to take fresh oath.”

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Poudel Sworn In as CJ by PM Koirala

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala sworn in the Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel at a special swearing-in ceremony at Singh Durbar this afternoon.

On Wednesday, a special cabinet meeting decided that the CJ should take oath of office by the PM.

Justice and other justices will be sworn in by the CJ in accordance with Article 162 (2) of the interim constitution that explicitly states that the judges will have to take fresh oath and anyone refusing to do so would stand dismissed.

The cabinet decision puts an end to the speculation over who will swear in Chief Justice Paudel since the constitutional clause merely states, "Oath will be imparted by anyone who is authorised to do so by the government."

After the ceremony, Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala said that the interim government would be formed within two weeks.

Koirala also said that the process for management of arms and soldiers of the Maoists would be complete in a week or two. "Interim government will be formed after the complete management of arms and armies", Koirala said adding there will be no possibility for the existence of any autocratic forces. "We, all should contribute to establish new Nepal", Koirala said.
Prime Minister to swear in Chief Justice

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala will swear in Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel at a special swearing-in ceremony on thrusday. The decision to this effect was taken at the end of a special cabinet council meeting on wednesday.
The decision to have Chief Justice and other justices take fresh oath of office was taken today in accordance with Article 162 (2) of the interim constitution that explicitly states that the judges will have to take fresh oath and anyone refusing to do so would stand dismissed.
“The cabinet decided on wednesday that Chief Justice should be sworn in by Prime Minister tomorrow. Other judges will be sworn in by the Chief Justice,” said Minister of Land Reforms and Management Prabhu Narayan Chaudhari .
The decision puts an end to the speculation over who will swear in Chief Justice Paudel since the constitutional clause merely states, “Oath will be imparted by anyone who is stipulated to do so by the government.”
mainwhile A full court meeting of the Supreme Court judges decided to continue work in SC and subordinate courts even without taking fresh oath of office as required by the Interim Constitution.
“We have decided to continue our regular business, as a majority of judges are against halting justice dispensation process,” a SC judge who attended the meeting . Justice Anup Raj Sharma, however, opposed the idea.
“The full court has decided to take fresh oath later after the government prepares procedures as per Article 162 (2) of the Interim Constitution,” Supreme Court spokesperson Durga Prasad Dawadi said in a press release issued after the meeting. “According to the full court, judges’ continuation of jobs without taking oath of office is not against the spirit of the Interim Constitution,” it stated.
Most of the judges expressed their views in favour of continuing work saying that it would be impractical to halt regular court business. Some judges opined to stick to the provision of the interim statute that requires them (judges) to take fresh oath of office before hearing a case.
Most of the judges, barring Justice Anup Raj Sharma, heard cases after the full court meeting, while Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha was not present in the office .
As soon as the Full Court meeting concluded, Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula went to the Supreme Court and presented a draft of procedures for administering oath of office to the judges. “Sitaula said the government would finalise the procedures soon,” a judge said. Talking to journalists, Sitaula said he took up the draft (of oath taking procedures) prepared by the government with the judges.
Meanwhile, newly elected president of the Nepal Bar Association, Bishwa Kanta Mainali, expressed concern over judges’ decision to hear cases before taking fresh oath of office.
“It was wrong on the part of judges to hear cases before taking fresh oath, as the Interim Constitution has made the same mandatory,” Mainali said.
Former Attorney General Sarvagya Ratna Tuladhar also opposed the full court decision saying that it was not an appropriate interpretation of the Interim Constitution.
“Fresh oath is a must for a judge before hearing a case, as the Interim Constitution has already come into force,” Tuladhar added.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Nemwang elected Speaker

Subash Chandra Nemwang on Wednesday was sworn in as the Speaker of the newly formed Interim Legislature-Parliament.
Today's sitting of the interim parliament formally elected the former speaker of the dissolved House of Representatives, Nemwang as the new speaker by a unanimous consent.

Nemwang's appointment was unopposed in the Interim Legislature.

Earlier today, the eight parties had agreed to continue with Nemwang and Chitralekha Yadav as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the parliament respectively despite the CPN-M demanding the new Speaker to be someone from their party.

The parties had opted for a general consensus to decide on the new Speaker instead of holding elections for the same after CPN-UML and CPN-M both lay claim to the post of Speaker.

Meanwhile, a meeting of the top leaders of four major parties ? Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML, CPN-M and NC-D ? had resumed today at the PM residence, Baluwatar after yesterday's meeting to decide on the Speaker, Deputy Speaker of the interim legislature ended inconclusively.

Similarly, a meeting of the CPN-UML standing committee today had also demanded that the new Speaker be decided today itself.

According to UML's standing committee member Jhalanath Khanal, the UML was presenting the party views regarding the Speaker appointment during today's meeting of the eight parties after a thorough discussion over the latest political developments in the country in today's meeting.

"The CPN-UML has not made demands for any specific posts, it is merely urging to give continuity to Subash Nemwang," Khanal said.

The UML leader further said that the CPN-UML is not in the parliament for the sake of garnering posts and that if attempts were made to defame the party in this regard, it would boycott the parliament.
Mainali elected NBA President

Senior Advocate Bishwo Kant Mainali has been elected President of the Nepal Bar Association (NBA), an umbrella organization of the professional lawyers of the country.
Mainali, in favour of the left panel, had represented the Progressive Faction of the lawyers.

Likewise, advocate Raman Kumar Shrestha has been elected General Secretary of the NBA while Sarita Bhandari Baral was elected treasurer of the association.

Both belong to the progressive faction.

Meanwhile, latest vote counts lean in favour of the left panel followed closely by right panel (Loktantrik Faction).

As the vote counting is underway, the results for the other posts are expected to be declared by Wednesday evening.

The Bar elections for a total of 17 posts including that of the NBA President and Vice-President commenced on Saturday in 33 election centres across the country.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Citizenship distribution begins

The teams dispatched by the Home Ministry have started distributing citizenship to people from Monday.

The Ministry had dispatched 520 teams with 3640 staffs. The team will reach all the Village Development Committees (VDCs) and municipalities to distribute citizenship certificate. In mountain region, the campaign will be held later due to harsh cold climate these days.

The government had earlier decided to dispatch such teams to distribute citizenship as per the new Citizenship Act passed by the parliament. The government aims to distribute citizenship particularly to millions of people of Terai region.

The decision to distribute the citizenship was made after politicians and people from Terai complained that they were being denied citizenship.

On the other hand, a section of politicians, MPs and civil society members have criticised the new Citizenship Act claiming that its provisions are very controversial and could lead to distribution of citizenship even to foreigners.

Interim parliament endorses Interim Constitution-2063

The first meeting of the interim parliament unanimously endorsed the Interim Constitution 2063 Monday evening.

Chairperson of the first session of the interim parliament Bal Bahadur Rai announced the endorsement of the interim constitution as none of the lawmakers opposed the proposal for endorsement. Home Minister Krishna Prasad Situala presented a proposal on behalf of the Prime Minister for endorsement of the interim constitution.

The interim constitution that replaces the constitution of 1990 has come into effect from today itself.

Addressing the session, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who leads the Maoist team in the interim parliament, said, “Today is beginning of new history. Never before had Nepali people got the opportunity to write their constitution. Now the people are going write their constitution through the constituent assembly, which is the main commitment of the interim constitution.”

“This is a historic day also in terms of balancing of political power,” he added, “In principle, the document has declared the end of monarchy and establishment of democratic republic.”

He described the interim constitution as a document of political agreement and that only the constituent assembly would bring a ‘complete constitution’. Mahara, who will also lead the Maoists in the interim cabinet also, reiterated his party’s stance in favour of democratic republic, revolutionary land reform, restructuring of the state and formation of national army.

“A new Nepal free of feudal suppression and foreign intervention has been our commitment and we are firm on that,” he said, adding that his party would play a constructive role in the interim parliament.

Addressing the session, Nepal Workers and Peasants Party (NWPP) Narayanman Bijukchhe urged the parties representing in the interim parliament to move ahead with consensus.

In the 330-seat interim parliament the Nepali Congress has 85 MPs, CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist) have 83 members each, NC (Democratic) 48, Rastriya Prajatantra Party 9, Nepal Sadbhawana Party (Anandi Devi) 5, People’s Front Nepal (PFN) led by Amrik Sherchan and NWPP have 4 MPS each and the PFN factions led by Chitra Bahadur KC and Chitra Bahadur Ale have 3 and 2 MPs respectively. Similarly, the United Left Front has 3 members and Rastriya Janashakti Party has 1 member in the interim parliament.

The next meeting of the interim legislature is scheduled for Wednesday 2:00 pm. The government has announced Tuesday as a public holiday

Monday, January 15, 2007

Interim statute not democratic: Expert

The interim constitution, if promulgated tomorrow as it has been agreed, will not be a democratic constitution since people cannot raise voice against proceedings of the interim legislature, said Bhimarjun Acharya, a constitutional expert.
Speaking at an interaction on ‘Role of Print Media in the Formation of New Nepal’, he claimed: “There is a provision in the interim constitution that anyone questioning proceedings of the legislature, speech made by any member of the legislature may be sentenced to jail for a maximum of three months.”
According to him, the interim statute has failed to ensure the democratic rights and people’s rights to question the activities of the members of legislature in interim parliament. It has failed to address the mandate and incorporate people’s sentiments expressed during Jana Andolan-II.
Former Minister of Law Nilambar Acharya alleged that media personnel are silent about the flaws of the interim statute. “If the media are not united in pushing democracy and righteousness, lawmakers who commit mistakes would be encouraged and we won’t be able to achieve our goal of holding CA polls.” Acharya also launched a monthly magazine Khoji.
Sunsari district court vandalised

Relatives of a man who was killed in an accident at Inaruwa on December 18, vandalised the Sunsari district court this evening for issuing a verdict against their wishes.

A single bench of judge Madhav Prasad Pokharel had issued the verdict ordering releasing Hem Narayan Urao, driver of the bus which knocked down Ram Lal Poddhar of Inaruwa, after imposing a fine of Rs 90,000.

Poddhar’s relatives and civil society members, who were staging a sit-in in front of the court’s main gates from 10:00 am today started vandalising the court office from 6:00 pm. They also shouted slogans against judge Pokharel and broke furniture.

The police controlled the situation about half an hour later, said SP in Yadav Raj Khanal.
“We had demanded action against Urao for murder but the court released him after imposing on him a fine of Rs 90,000 only,” said late Ram Lal’s nephew Santosh Dev. Irate kin have called strike from tomorrow, he said.

Lila Gautam, a judge in the Sunsari court, confirmed the incident and said this was a simple incident and had happened during a transitional period.
Only minor changes related to JC made
The government ignored the major recommendations of the SC submitted to PM GP Koirala seeking amendments in different provisions of the Interim Constitution 2007.

The government only changed some minor provisions related to the Judicial Council (JC).

The minor changes relate to the composition of the JC recognising the senior most judge of the SC as the senior member of the JC. The initial draft of the interim statute had said that the seniormost judge of the SC will be a junior member of the JC and a legal expert nominated by the PM and a legal expert nominated by the NBA were to be senior to him in the JC.

CJ Dilip Kumar Paudel had yesterday submitted the SC’s recommendation to PM Koirala.
The SC had said judges should be impeached on grounds of incompetence, misbehaviour and failure to discharge duties, that the CJ be appointed by the JC rather than by the PM. The court wanted to make the SC’s annual report public as practised now and opposed submitting it to the PM, allowing the parliament to discuss it.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cabinet approves interim constitution

A meeting of the Council of Ministers today approved the draft interim constitution.
The cabinet approved the interim constitution and decided to submit it to the parliament secretariat.
The draft interim constitution will be tabled at the parliament on Monday for promulgation.
Top leaders of the ruling seven-party alliance and the Maoists had finalised the interim constitution on December 16.
As per the agreement between the SPA and the Maoists the interim constitution will be promulgated on Monday and interim legislature will be formed on the same day.
Lawmakers have criticised the parties for not providing sufficient time for discussing the interim constitution, as voices have been raised from various quarters demanding some amendment in the interim constitution.
The Maoists will be inducted in the interim legislature and interim government after promulgation of the interim constitution.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Nepal Bar Association elections underway

The election of the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) on Saturday went underway to elect the new leadership in the association's central working committee.A total of 9539 legal professionals in 33 voting centers across the country are vying for a position in the 17-member central working committee of the umbrella organization of Nepalese lawyers.
According to NBA vice-chairman Sher Bahadur KC, the election which began today at 9am will continue till 4 in the evening.Vying for the post of NBA chairman are senior lawyer Basanta Ram Bhandary from Loktantrik group, advocate Bishwa Kanta Mainali from the Progressive group, and independent candidates Trilochan Gautam and Tara Nath Dhunga.
KC informed that the there could be a delay in the publication of the final results of the election since ballot boxes from centers outside the valley have to be brought to Kathmandu before the votes can be counted.Likewise, KC also said that 1250 votes had been dropped in the ballot box at the NBA head office in Ramshah Path.
OHCHR calls for support to court probe into disappearances

The Office of the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR-Nepal) Friday called for support to Supreme Court Task Force to investigate Bhairabnath Battalion Disappearances saying that it would be crucial to clarify the disappearance cases. A press statement issued by OHCHR-Nepal said that it had taken note of a Supreme Court order issued on 9 January 2007 that a Supreme Court Task Force investigate disappearances carried out by the Bhairabnath Battalion.
The order was made in response to a petition filed by persons who had been detained at Maharajgunj Barracks in Kathmandu. The Task Force was originally established by the Supreme Court in August 2006 to investigate disappearances of individuals named in other petitions. It said OHCHR-Nepal had long been concerned about the government's failure to conduct impartial investigations intothese disappearances, which are described in OHCHR-Nepal's May 2006 Report of investigation into arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances at Maharajgunj RNA barracks, Kathmandu, in 2003-2004, as well as into some 300 other cases of disappearances by the Nepalese Army reported to OHCHR.
While OHCHR-Nepal continues to believe that a credible, competent, impartial and fully independent commission must be set up to investigate and clarify all disappearance cases, the Supreme Court order is an important step towards achieving that goal, the statement added.It is essential that the Task Force be provided with sufficient resources and logistical support to conduct its investigations, and the Nepalese Army and Nepal Police must fully co-operate with it."I am deeply concerned at the lack of response by the government to our reports on disappearances by the Bhairabnath Battalion.
The families of those who have been disappeared continue to have their calls for truth and justice ignored, and this lack of action remains a major stumbling block to establishing a culture of accountability in Nepal, which is so essential to the protection of human rights.It is crucial that the government fulfil its responsibility to establish the fate of the disappeared and ensure that those responsible are brought to account." said Lena Sundh, Representative in Nepal of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Supreme Court spokesman appointed

The Supreme Court has appointed co-registrar of the SC Durga Prasad Dawadi as spokesman of the Supreme Court and Deputy Registrar of SC, Hemanta Rawal as the assistant spokesman for disseminating information on the proceedings of the court.Earlier, registrar Dr. Ram Krishna Timalsena was the spokesman. RSS

Friday, January 12, 2007

Lawyers Set to Choose Their Leaders
Around 9,000 lawyers across the country are set to cast their vote to elect new leadership of the Nepal Bar Association on Saturday.
According to central member of the NBA Tika Ram Bhattarai, 9194 lawyers will cast their votes on Saturday. Lawyers will elect 17-member executive body for the next three years. NBA’s current president advocate Shambhu Thapa’s team will complete its tenure after two months.
Senior advocate Bishwokanta Mainali is leading the progressive panel while senior advocate Basanta Ram Bhandari is leading democratic panel.
According to chief election officer of the NBA, Speaker Subas Nembang will not cast his vote this time. He has informed the NBA election office that will not exercise his voting right this time as he is currently holding a public post. Nembang is a professional lawyer and was elected general secretary of the NBA a couple of years ago.Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula and State Minister for Labour and Transport Management, Ramesh Lekhak, Attorney General Yagya Murti Banjade and some MPs are yet to inform whether they will cast their votes or not. But Lekhak has recently transferred his polling centre from Dhangadi to Kathmandu.There will be regional polling centres in main cities like Biratnagar, Jhapa, Rajbiraj, Janakupur, Hetaunda, Pokhara, Butwal, Dhangadi, Mahendranagar and Dipayal along with sub-centres.
Advocate Hari Prasad Uprety is contesting for the post of vice-president from Central Development Region and Raman Shrestha is contesting for the post of General Secretary from the progressive panel. Advocate and Law Professor Purnaman Shakya is contesting for the post of vice-president and Upendra Keshari Neupane is contesting for the post of General Secretary from the democratic panel in the central development region.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

SC for status of 446 held by royal govt

The Supreme Court on wednesday ordered the government to make clear the status of 446 persons arrested and detained by the royal government and of whom nothing is known now.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel and Justice Tahir Ali Ansari issued the order after a hearing. The bench ordered the authorities to inform it whether the 446 were released or not.
The court is to be informed through the Office of the Attorney General. But the court has not fixed any deadline for getting the information. The court order was in response to three separate writ petitions filed by General Secretary of the Human Rights Organisation of Nepal Baburam Giri and few other human rights associations. The petitioners had sought the court order for the release of 446 people.
Most of them were arrested and detained on the allegation of being Maoists’ sympathisers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

PM refuses SC judges' suggestions to amend interim statute

Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has refused to receive the suggestions put forward by the Supreme Court Judges seeking amendments to the interim statute.According to sources, PM Koirala twice turned down Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel’s request to meet him to submit the draft of the suggestions.The Chief Justice had requested an appointment with the PM yesterday evening and this morning.Sources added that the prime minister refused to meet the CJ due to his “busy schedule”.A meeting of the SC justices earlier this week had unanimously decided to ask the political parties to amend the judicial provisions in the interim constitution after they found some of the provisions "insufficient for ensuring judicial independence."Last Sunday, a meeting of the SC's Full Court, which is the apex-policy making body of the judiciary, hammered out a 13-point suggestion to amend the judicial provisions in the interim constitution. The suggestions relate to the appointment of the chief justice, impeachment, formation of the Constitutional Council, Judicial Council, the oath taking process of the CJ, and SC’s annual report publication, among others.
SC home page
Legal professionals and concerned people can be informed about details of their cases in Supreme Court through the Court's Homepage.The website came into online from last year and it went into trail for concerned people from last month.The Court has been preparing to help Chief Justice to decide about daily cause list online within two weeks, Technical Director of Supreme Court Deepak Timalsena said.The website provides information about number of cases included in cause list and decided cases, orders and case process details.The website has been found browsed by nearly three thousand legal professionals and concerned people.Technical Director Timalsena informed that the technology would be extended to 11 appellate courts in this fiscal year.

No idea about distribution of funds: Ex-RCCC chief
Chairman of the disbanded Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) Bhakta Bahadur Koirala today told the Commission headed by the former Appellate Court Judge Madhav Prasad Ojha that he did not know about the distribution of Rs 4.1 million of Prime Minister’s Relief Funds by the Sher Bahadur Deuba cabinet.“I did not know whether it was the cabinet decision before filing a case against Deuba and other ex-ministers, but I knew that it was based on the cabinet decision only after the case was registered in the RCCC,” he said.
He also added that it was the RCCC’s mistake to file a case on any matter of cabinet decision. The RCCC had later given a clean chit to Deuba and the ex-ministers.A three-member panel leaded by Ojha has been interrogating Koirala. Koirala also reiterated that he did not order police to arrest Deuba at midnight.
He also added that he is not answerable for every decision of the RCCC, but claimed that those who took decisions must take responsibility. Koirala also claimed that they used to take legal opinion from Judge Shambhu Khadka before taking any decision and prosecuting anyone, though he was the secretary of the RCCC.
Recording his statement, Khadka yesterday claimed that he worked in the RCCC after the King had appointed him. “Due to the special circumstances, I had accepted the post as I thought that the King might have talked with the Chief Justice about my appointment,” he claimed.
SC Tells Panel to Probe Cases of 49 Missing Persons

The Supreme Court on Tuesday told the panel headed by Appellate Court Judge Lokendra Mallik to investigate into the whereabouts of 49 missing persons.A division bench of Justices Ram Nagina Singh and Top Bahadur Magar told the panel to investigate into the 49 more cases of missing people as the panel has been investigating the whereabouts of four missing persons including Bipin Bhandari since the past few months.
Responding to the habeas corpus petitions filed by the Maoists student leaders Lekhnath Neupane, Krishna KC, Himal Sharma and Bina Magar seeking the release of the 49 persons, the bench directed the panel to investigate the cases.According to them, the 49 missing persons, including Gyanendra Tripathi, Rajendra Thapa, Purna Paudel and Nabin Rai, were detained with them but the government is yet to make public their whereabouts.
The writ petitioners claimed that they were arrested by the security forces and were detained in army detention centres, but even after the success of Jana Andolan II the government is yet to make public their whereabouts.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Justices submit memo for amendment in interim statute to CJ

Justices of the Supreme Court today submitted their 13-point recommendation for amendment in the interim constitution to Chief Justice (CJ) Dilip Kumar Poudel to hand it over to the Prime Minister.

The memorandum was handed over to the CJ after all SC justices put their signature in the memorandum, which was passed by a full court meeting on Sunday.

The memorandum was presented to the CJ only today, as some of the justices could not sign it yesterday.

According to Supreme Court registrar Dr. Ram Krishna Timilsena, the justices have left it to the CJ whether to submit it to the Prime Minister.

The meeting of the ruling seven-party alliance and the Maoists on Monday decided to issue the interim constitution on January 15 without any amendment.

Stating that some provisions of the draft interim constitution are against the concept of the independence of Judiciary, a the full court meeting of the SC justices had came up with a 13-point recommendation for amendment in the draft of the interim constitution and decided to submit the recommendations to the Prime Minister.

The proposal states that the Chief Justice be appointed with the recommendation of the Constitutional Council, not by the Prime Minister as mentioned in the draft of the interim constitution. The judges have also argued that the CJ should be named as the ‘CJ of Nepal’ instead of the ‘CJ of the Supreme Court’.

The judges have also opposed the provision in the draft interim constitution, which bars retired judges from getting political appointments as well as the provision of impeachment of judges if they are found with mental or physical inability.

Similarly, another recommendation says that the provision of submitting the annual report of the judiciary to the Prime Minister, who will then present it to the parliament, be changed as it is against the concept of judicial independence. The report, it is proposed, should be publicised directly without submitting it to the Prime Minister.
SC fails to submit draft
The Supreme Court on Monday failed to submit the draft of the recommendation to the government on the interim constitution that was endorsed on Sunday, as the SC has prepared the draft of the recommendation but could not collect signatures of all judges on the draft. “We have finalised the draft today and probably the Chief Justice will meet the Prime Minister to submit the recommendation tomorrow,” SC Registrar Ram Krishna Timalsena told reporters. “The CJ will seek the PM’s time and he will submit it to him,” he added
Interim constitution, legislature on Jan 15

Top leaders of the seven-party alliance and the CPN-Maoist on monday decided to promulgate the “Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2063 B.S” on January 15 and also to ratify it by the interim legislature-parliament on the same day.
The leaders took this decision at a high-level meeting of the eight political parties held at the Prime Minister’s official residence at Baluwatar.According to the November 8 agreement, the interim constitution was scheduled to come into force on November 26.
But the leaders could manage to ink the interim constitution only on December 16.A joint press statement issued by the alliance and the Maoist leaders has also appealed to all the political parties, civil society and the people to contribute their level best to hold the constituent assembly election in June in a free, fair and peaceful manner.
The leaders have also called for moving ahead and reaching an all-party consensus at the district level for the purpose of collecting voters’ list, distributing citizenship certificates and maintaining law and order in society.“For this purpose, we express our commitment to extend necessary co-operation to send VDC secretaries to villages and re-establish police posts,” said the joint statement issued at the end of the meeting.
Interim Statute Has Undermined Judiciary: NBA

President of Nepal Bar Association (NBA), Shambhu Thapa, and senior advocates on Monday said the interim constitution, which is being tabled at the House of Representatives (HoR) on January 15, has undermined the judiciary.Thapa, and two NBA presidential candidates Basanta Ram Bhandari and Biswokanta Mainali were unanimous to stress that certain provisions, including the 'impregnable position' enjoyed by the Prime Minister in the interim constitution be suitably amended.Bhandari and Mainali have filed for presidential candidature for the NBA top post in the elections to be conducted this Saturday.
Thapa said the absence of sitting judges while finalising the interim constitution has left room for amendments. "It (interim constitution) appears more of a political document than a legal paper," he told an interaction at Reporters' Club today, adding that the leaders, in the absence of legal experts, concentrated more on political issues while finalising the interim statute. "This is one of the causes why the judiciary has been undermined," he added.Bhandari suggested the eight political parties (Seven Party Alliance and the Maoist) to make necessary amendments in the interim constitution before it is tabled at the HoR.
"If they fail to do so, there can be anarchy," he warned. Bhandari also suggested that the constitution brought by the constituent assembly should be acceptable to the people or else there can be a people's uprising.He also made it clear that any constitution that is "dictatorial in any form" would be unacceptable to the NBA. "We will be compelled to initiate protests if dictatorial constitution is brought," he warned.
Mainali said "autocracy in any form (in the constitution) would not be acceptable" to NBA. "We will not allow any constitution to come that undermines judiciary," Mainali warned, saying that judiciary cannot be independent if the NBA fails to stand against any form of autocracy."If the constitution brought by the constituent assembly gives place to autocracy, NBA will not tolerate," he said and cautioned the concerned parties to bear this in mind.
"Be it a republican set-up or a democracy, there should be no room for autocracy," he added, while referring to the provision of giving more powers to the Prime Minister in the interim constitution. Senior advocate and former NBA president Harihar Dahal stressed on constitutional supremacy, rule of law, independent judiciary and human rights.
Some amendment essential in Interim constitution before promulgation: Aryal

Chairman of the interim constitution drafting committee, Laxman Prasad Aryal has said some amendment should be made in the interim constitution before promulgating it nepalnews reports.
In a video interview with Nepalnews, the former Justice Aryal, who is also one of the framers of the 1990 constitution and who had chaired the committee that first drafted the interim constitution, said that the leaders of political parties changed some provisions in the draft that was submitted by the committee.
"Though this constitution is better than the 1990 constitution, some provisions related with Judiciary, Fundamental Rights, Pardon and Rights delegated to Prime Minister should be amended before it is promulgated," Aryal added. He, however, said that as the constitution is for the interim period only and the country is passing through a difficult phase, the constitution will appear somewhat different than the constitutions to rule the country in normal period.
He expressed dissatisfaction over the provision that authorises the Prime Minister to appoint three members of the Constitutional Council that recommends the names of the chiefs of the constitutional bodies. He also said that there might be negative impact in the Judiciary and the independence of judiciary could be compromised, if Prime Minister is authorised to appoint and transfer the Chief Justice.
He also said that even if the Judiciary is left independent, the provision of the interim constitution will reduce people's faith in judiciary, as it will appear 'controlled.' He also added that the constitution will have been in better format had the political parties finalised political issues first and then only drafted the statute - as a constitution is a combination of politics and laws. "More power has been entrusted to Prime Minister in order to make the decision making process during the transitional period fast and efficient, so, if the Prime Minister realises that he is not just the head of the government and the head of the state, the Prime Minister can't misuse his power," Aryal added.
Commenting on the system of government mentioned in the interim constitution, Aryal said, the constitution has adopted parliamentary system but the responsibility of head of the state has been given to the Prime Minister as per people's aspiration, adding, "People are not in favour of giving any power to the King and there was a need for some person to carry out the works hitherto carried out by the King - so such responsibilities were given to Prime Minister."
Aryal further said that there should not be any delay in issuing the interim constitution as any delay may push back the elections of the constituent assembly and the process of making new Nepal
RCCC chairman, members appear before Ojha Commission
The judicial commission investigating into the actions of the now-defunct Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) interrogated RCCC chairman Bhakta Bahadur Koirala and two other members on Monday. RCCC chairman Koirala and members Prem Bahadur Khati and Shambhu Bahadur Khadka recorded their statement before the panel, which is headed by Appellate Court judge Madhav Prasad Ojha, regarding the allegations of financial irregularities and harassment of political leaders in the name of investigating corruption.
Coming out of their interrogation, the RCCC functionaries defended their action, insisting that the commission was formed for the sole purpose of investigating corruption cases.
Koirala said the RCCC was not involved in any kind of ‘excesses’ and challenged that the probe commission take action against him lawfully. Khati also made similar claim. “We didn’t do anything illegal. And there is nothing to regret about what we did as RCCC members. The RCCC’s aim was not to harass political leaders but to investigate corruption cases.”
Another RCCC member Khadka refused to talk to media persons present outside the commission premises at Pulchowk. The Ojha panel will continue interrogation of others associated with the Royal Commission, which was dissolved after a Supreme Court order on February 13.

Monday, January 08, 2007

RCCC men don't know who ordered Deuba arrest

Two members of the now disbanded Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) today said they did not know who had ordered the arrest of former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.RCCC members Raghuchandra Bahadur Singh and Haribabu Chaudhary, recording their statements to the Ojha Commission, which has been investigating about the excessive force used by the RCCC, claimed that they did not order the investigating officials to arrest Deuba.“They claimed that they did not know who issued orders to arrest Duba,” a member of the Ojha Commission, Ram Prasad Gaudel told .
According to Gaudel, the two members of the RCCC also told the Ojha Commission that knew about Deuba’s arrest only the next morning.The Ojha commission also interrogated RCCC member Prem Bahadur Khati on sunday.
The government had formed a commission under the leadership of former Appellate Court Judge Madhav Prasad Ojha to investigate into the excesses of the RCCC.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

SC Judges Seek 13-point Amendment to Interim Statute

A full court meeting of the Supreme Court judges on sunday took a decision to seek amendment in the draft of the Interim Constitution finalised by the government and the Maoists so as to make it compatible with the independence of the judiciary.

The judges' meeting concluded with decision to forward a 13-point recommendation to amend the interim constitution to the Prime Minister. The meeting also said that the draft of the interim constitution prepared and signed by the Seven-Party government and the Maoist leaders on December 16 violated the concept of independence of the judiciary.“We have unanimously endorsed the recommendation,” Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi told to reporters.

The justices have sought amendment in the interim statute so that the Chief Justice would be appointed on recommendation of Constitutional Council rather than by the PM's sole recommendation. “We have expressed our concern and we think that the politicians will address our concerns it but it is up to them whether or not to accept our suggestions,” justice Rayamajhi added.During the meeting majority of the justices including Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel, Justices Kedar Prasad Giri and Tahir Ali Ansari, opposed the idea of recommending amendment but later they agreed with the majority of judges. “They have claimed that such an attempt may not be accepted by the politicians but later they agreed to protect the independence of the judiciary,” another judge said.

The judges have also sought amendment in the provision on the composition of the Constitutional Council headed by the PM while appointing the Chief Justice. They have proposed that Prime Minister, Chief Justice, Speaker, Law Minister and a judge of the Supreme Court named by outgoing Chief Justice be the members of Constitutional Council members to appoint a new chief justice. The meeting also called the government to amend the provision on CJ's oath of office in the draft of the interim constitution.

The Judges also asked to entitle the Chief Justice as the Chief Justice of Nepal rather than Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and called to delete a provision of impeaching judges on the ground of inability to work on physical and mental incapability.
The meeting also demanded change in the formation of the Judicial Council and sought exclusion of the representative of the Nepal Bar Association as proposed by the draft of the interim constitution.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

SC forms committee

The full court meeting of Supreme Court judges today formed a panel to study the fasibility of setting up separate benches in court to hear business and corporate disputes.The full bench formed the panel under the coordination of Jumla Appellate Court Judge Tarka Raj Bhatta along with five district court judges,” SCRegistrar Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena said.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ojha Commission grills two RCCC members

The commission investigating into the activities of the now-defunct Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) interrogated two former RCCC members Friday.

Commission members quizzed RCCC members Hari Babu Chourdhary and Raghu Chandra Bahadur Singh over alleged financial misapplications and the role of the RCCC in harassing political opponents and suppressing the Jana Aandolan.

Talking to reporters after the interrogation at the commission's office, both Choudhary and Singh said they never expected to be interrogated at the same place from where he interrogated others.

The commission chaired by former Appellate Court judge Madhav Prasad Ojha has summoned RCCC chairman Bhakta Bahadur Koirala on January 08. The Ojha commission is set to interrogate other key functionaries of the disbanded Royal Commission gradually.

The RCCC, which was widely criticised for pursuing political vendetta against the leaders of political parties, pro-democracy bureaucrats and businessmen, was dissolved after a Supreme Court order on February 13, 2006.

Justices to ask PM to amend interim statute

Supreme Court justices have stated some provisions in the proposed interim constitution interferes with the independence of the Judiciary.

During the full court meeting of the Supreme Court justices held on Friday, they resolved that granting prime minister authority for appointing chief justice and justices is against the spirit of an independent judiciary.

Legal experts have raised questions over the provision in the interim constitution that has given power to prime minister for appointing chief justice and justices.

The meeting has decided to ask the office of the prime minister to amend the provisions related to the Judiciary. The justices have also raised questions regarding the structure of the judicial council and judicial service commission where the law minister, who is a member in both the agencies, has been bestowed a higher portfolio than a Supreme Court justice.

Article 103 of the proposed constitution states that prime minister would appoint chief justice on the recommendation of constitutional council.

The other disagreeing point raised by the justices is the provision in Article 106, which says justices or chief justice can be assigned to judicial investigation works after consulting the judicial council and Article 117 that empowers the parliament to discuss the annual report of the court.

However, a few days ago, acting chief justice Kedar Prasad Giri had stated there is no alternative to empowering PM for appointment of justices in transitional period despite. Meanwhile, PM Girija Prasad Koirala has expressed his dissatisfaction regarding the powers given to prime minister in this matter.

Restaurant owners seek legal provisions

Cabin and dance restaurants’ owners today demanded legal provisions to help monitor and regulate their activities.

Speaking at a ‘Consultation to Facilitate Adoption of Code of Ethics in Cabin/Dance Restaurants’ organised by RAHAT, Manoj KC, president of the Association of Restaurant Entrepreneurs Nepal said, “A legal provision would help the law enforcing agencies to take action against any restaurant conducting illegal activities.”

Such a law would define the activities permitted or not in the restaurants.
Bala Ram Sharma, deputy superintendent of police at Valley Crime Investigation Branch, said, a legal provision is must to make the restaurant owners accountable and also to improve their functioning pattern.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) formed a committee under the coordination of joint secretary of MoWCSW to prepare a report regarding the restaurants to formulate the policies related to them and solve the problems faced by the restaurant entrepreneurs as well as employees in the restaurants.
SC moved against CoAS, senior army officers

Wife of a former detainee at the Maharajgunj-based Bhairav Nath barracks, who was allegedly killed at the barracks by army officials, on thrusday filed a writ petition at the Supreme Court, seeking its order to the government authorities to prosecute senior army officials, including Chief of Army Staff Gen Rookmangud Katawal, for the murder.

Ram Maya, wife of late Padam Narayan Nakarmi, filed the petition, demanding that the Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, Ministries of Home and Defence, and Inspector General of Police and his office prosecute Gen Katawal, retired Army Chief Pyar Jung Thapa, officials at the Bhairav Nath barracks, Raju Basnet, Bibek Bista, Indibur Rana and Dilip Rayamajhi, for the murder of her husband.

In the petition, Ram Maya said she moved the apex court after Nepali Police Headquarters and the Kathmandu District Police Office Kathmandu refused to accept the First Information Report on the murder case. She accused army officials Basnet, Bista, Rana and Rayamajhi of killing her husband two years ago under the order of the then Chief of Army Staff Pyar Jung Thapa.

She claimed in the petition that former detainees at the Bhairavnath barracks, Krishna KC and Himal Sharma, had informed her about the murder of her husband in the barracks. She claimed that the refusal to accept the FIR was in violation of Articles 11, 12 and 14 of the 1990 Constitution and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 and Human Rights Declaration of 1948. The petitioner claimed that the apex court should intervene in the case, as she could not get justice from other authorities.

JC denies it let judge work for RCCC

The Judicial Council on thrusday told the commission investigating action initiated by the disbanded Royal Commission for Corruption Control(RCCC) against democratic leaders during the royal regime that it had not given permission to judge Shambhu Khadka to work as RCCC secretary.

The JC is headed by Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel.“The JC today wrote to us, saying it had not given permission to Khadka to work as the RCCC secretary,” said a member of the Commission headed by former Appellate Court Judge Madhav Prasad Ojha. Before appointment in the RCCC, Khadka was working as a district court judge.

“We had urged the JC to furnish a copy of the decision taken by the JC on Khadka’s appointment to the RCCC. The 1990 Constitution does not allow any judge to take up administrative assignment,” the member added.

Khadka, currently working as a judge at the Dipayal Appellate Court, informed the commission today that he could not be present at the commission because he could not get an air ticket to fly to Kathmandu. The commission also quizzed a former RCCC member, Shambhu Khanal. Stating that he was not a judge, Khanal claimed he had decided cases as per the “decision of the then government.” “We asked him to prove he was qualified to decide cases, which he could not,” said a member of the commission, Ram Prasad Gaudel.
Rayamajhi quits Judges’ Society

Citing serious differences with its chairman, Supreme Court justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi resigned from the Judges’ Society on thrusday. The society is headed by the senior-most SC judge, Justice Kedar Prasad Giri.

Rayamajhi is the second most senior judge of the Supreme Court. The Judges’ Society works for the welfare of judges and for the promotion of the rule of law.

According to a source at the SC, Justice Rayamajhi has accused Justice Giri of not doing enough to promote the rule of law and maintain the independence of the judiciary and the justice system. When contacted, Justice Rayamajhi confirmed that he had resigned from the society.

Working as the Acting Chief Justice, Giri had recently said there would be no problem in adopting a provision in the draft of the Interim Constitution that will give the Prime Minister the power to appoint the Chief Justice. Giri had said there was no other option except to give the authority to the Prime Minister to appoint the Chief Justice.

Giri had also claimed that the King was not the head of the state, saying he was suspended as the head of the state.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court has called a full-court meeting of its justices tomorrow to discuss controversial provisions on judiciary figuring in the draft of the interim constitution.

The justices will discuss provisions of the Interim Constitution, which state that the Supreme Court’s annual report must be submitted to the Prime Minister and the same should be discussed in the parliament.

Justices have said these provisions question the independence of the judiciary. They say Article 151 of the draft of the interim statute has given the Council the right to pardon.

In tomorrow’s meeting, the judges will also discuss the provision adopted in the draft of the interim statute, which states that SC judges take fresh oath in parliament failing which they will lose their job.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

House passes Water Bill

The House of Representatives on passed the Nepal Drinking Water Corporation (third amendment) Bill 2006 to amend the Nepal Drinking Water Corporation Act 1989.The Bill aims at handing over management of the corporation to a private party and to hand over the job of supplying drinking water in the Kathmandu valley to a non-governmental authority.
The Bill will turn an Act after Speaker Subas Nembang authenticates it .Though some MPs, including a few from the UML, objected the provision to hand over the management to a non-governmental organisation, the House has passed the Bill by a simple majority.UML MPs Prakash Jwala and Ananda Pokhrel had left from the session while the Bill was voted. Earlier, they criticised the provision claiming that it is a wrong idea to provide the authority to any non-governmental organisation to supply drinking water.
They argued it is the job of the government. Jana Morcha Nepal led by Chitra Bahadur KC and Nepal Workers and Peasant Party MPs voted against the Bill.The MPs have flayed the government’s role to hand over the management to a foreign company for supplying drinking water in the Kathmandu valley.“How can the government hand over the responsibility to a non- governmental institution as supplying water is the job of the government?,” Jwala and Pokhrel asked.They have claimed that since it was the right of the people to get parable drinking water from the government it cannot escape from the responsibility.
The government has been planning to hand over the job to the Britain- based Severn Tent Water International Private Limited for $ 8.5 million .During the special hour, MPs flayed the government and the Ministry of Education and Sports for not appointing officials in Tribhuvan University.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Voters' List Act published

KATHMANDU, Jan. 2: The Government of Nepal has published the Voters' List Act-2063 B.S. for information of the public.

The Act developed by in the first year of the issue of the House of Representatives Declaration 2063 was published in the Nepal Gazette on December 29.

The Act has been formulated in order to bring amendments and integration to the voters' list law for the elections to the constituent assembly.

Various provisions including avoiding the repeating of double registration, demand for evidence in the name registration, change and addition to the final list of voters and the provision to raise questions at the court have been included in the Act.

The Act provides for special provision concerning the temporary voters' list including the employees working under the Government , under the Army, Police or based at the cantonments, those imprisoned in various prisons and the employees on duty in election or polling centres.

The temporary voter's list would be used only for the purpose of voting for the posts of 204 members in the Constituent Assembly that will take place on the basis of proportional electoral system.

According to the Act, if a non-Nepali citizen lies he is a Nepali citizen and registers his/her name in the voters list, the person would be penalized with a fine of up to Rs. 50,000 and six months imprisonment or both.

Similarly, if anyone provides fake particulars and registers his/her name in the voters list or gives an application with fake information regarding his/ her name, address, age or other details, knowingly makes changes in the voters list or makes addition and deletions in it, destroys it or mutilates it, or if anyone intimidates or lures the employees deployed in connection with collecting names for voters list or prevents the employees from carrying out their work and exposes the secrecy that has to be maintained, such a person would be liable for a fine of up to Rs 10,000 or one month imprisonment or both.

Likewise, any person inciting to commit the crime, colluding in the crime or helping to carry out the crime would be liable for half the punishment handed down to the person committing the crime.

As per the Act, the officer responsible for collecting names and registering names for the voters list or any other employee involved in the election related works would be liable for departmental action of the Commission in accordance with the current laws if the officer and employee concerned makes additions and deletions of names in and from the voters list and the final voters list with ill intention.

The cases to be filed in accordance with this Act would be file on behalf of the Government of Nepal. The District Election Officer of the District concerned would carry out the investigation and hearing into the cases related to the election.

Ojha panel summons RCCC chairman, members

A commission formed under the chairmanship of former Appellate Court judge, Madhav Prasad Ojha, today summoned chairman of the disbanded Royal Commission for Corruption Control, Bhakta Bahadur Koirala, and RCCC members to record their statements on their role in suppressing democratic activities.

The commission has asked Koirala to present himself before the RCCC on January 8 to record his statement why he had taken illegal action against democratic leaders. “We have found
that the RCCC officials acted against the leaders illegally and improperly. That’s why they have been summoned,” a member of the Commission, Ram Prasad Gaudel, told .

The commission has requested the Judicial Council to order appellate court judge Shambhu Bahadur Khadka to present himself before the commission on January 4, as he had worked as RCCC’s secretary. “Khadka is a judge of Dipayal Appellate Court and we cannot directly summon him,” Gaudel added. The commission believes that Khadka had played a vital role in the action taken against several democratic leaders and persons and had hatched conspiracies to tarnish the image of democratic leaders.

The commission has also summoned RCCC member Shambhu Khanal to record his statement on January 4. Two RCCC members, Raghuchandra Bir Singh and Hari Babu Chaudhary, have been told to to be present on January 5. Another member of the RCCC, Prem Bahadur Khati, has been summoned for January 7.

The commission members have condemned the government for not providing them with sufficient facilities, staff and vehicles. They said that had been affecting the activities of the commission.
The Ojha Commission’s term expires in three weeks.