Thursday, March 29, 2007

SC directives implementation unsatisfactory

A three-year-old Supreme Court directive to the government to take legislative measures for implementing obligations under the 1949 Geneva Conventions is gathering dust in court cupboards ekantipur reports.
Interestingly, the directive order issued on January 9, 2004 has not even reached the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers or the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs - the implementing agencies in this case- though these offices are just a stone's throw from the apex court premises.
This instance is just the tip of the iceberg regarding how directive orders from the Supreme Court have been treated. The list of unimplemented directive orders like this one could be long. In fact, a study by the National Judicial Council (NJC) says that the record of implementation of such orders is very poor.
"The implementation of directive orders is not satisfactory. … The implementation and monitoring mechanism
are not effective. There is a lack of coordination between the court and the bodies responsible for the implementation of directive orders," the study concluded.
Directive orders are issued only in cases of public interest or importance. Such an order instructs or directs the government and bodies under it to do specific things regarding the case under consideration. The apex court issued altogether 67 such orders after 1990.
According to the study of directive orders issued by the Supreme Court after the 1990 Constitution came into force, only 13 directive orders have been implemented fully while six others have been partially put into practice.
Similarly, the study, a first of its kind, says that 22 directive orders are in the process of implementation while 11 more are awaiting implementation. The report states that the status of 15 directive orders could not be confirmed.
"The authorities concerned are not sensitive over the implementation of directive orders," the study reported, "Less interest or importance has been given in this regard [implementation]."
Meanwhile, Public Interest Litigation lawyers suggest that the existing mechanism for monitoring the implementation of directive orders should be reformed.
"The existing follow-up mechanism at the Supreme Court is not effective, so it needs to be improved," said advocate Raju Prasad Chapagain, who is waiting for the implementation of a directive order issued in response to his petition.
Other lawyers said that they themselves are monitoring the implementation of directive orders issued in their respective cases. "In many cases, I myself write to the bodies concerned for implementation of the directive orders," said advocate Mira Dhungana.

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