Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lauda Air lease case verdict on Thursday

The Special Court said that it would issue a verdict on the much-awaited case of lease of a Lauda Air aircraft on Thursday.The case was filed by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) eight years ago.A three-member bench of Judges comprising Bhoop-dhoj Adhikary, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana said today that the bench would pronounce the verdict on the case on Thursday. “Though the bench was supposed to pronounce the verdict today, it could not do so due to time constraint,” Registrar Lekh Nath Neupane told journalists. The CIAA had filed the case against the then Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Tarani Dutta Chataut and all the officials of the board of the then Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation Hiri Bhakta Shrestha, Thirtha Lal Shre-stha, Gauri Nath Sharma and Raja Ram Upadhyaya.The CIAA had accused them of amassing Rs 389 million in the lease of an aircraft of Lauda Air. In the case, the CIAA had warned the then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala not to repeat such a ‘mistake’ as the Council of Ministers had allowed the leasing of the Lauda Air aircraft.The RNAC had signed a 18-month lease agreement with the Lauda Airlines of Vienna, Austria, but did not work after huge criticism by Nepali society and the Airbus was returned after six months

SC moved to scrap certain sections on bail

A writ petition was filed at the Supreme Court demanding an apex court directive to the government authorities to declare null and void certain legal provisions regarding bail.Advocate duo Rajiv Banstola and Sarvagya Raj Naya filed the petition demanding nullification of Sections 118, 123, 194 under Court Management Chapter of Country Code-1963, Clause 7 of Act Regarding Spying-1961, Clause 7 of Special Court Act-2002 and a provision in the Anti-Trafficking Act-1986. The petitioners claim that the provisions contradict with Article12 (2) of the InterimConstitution and International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)-1966.The petitioners claimed that the provisions are against the concept of democratic norms.The Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet, the Parliament, the Ministryof Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Special Court, the Kathmandu District Court and the Patan Appellate Court have been made the defendants in the petition.

Monday, July 30, 2007

CJ should be chosen on seniority basis: SC judge

Kathmandu, Judy 29:Supreme Court Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi today said that seniority is the ‘safest criterion’ for appointment of the next Chief Justice.“It is best to go by seniority in picking the new CJ,” Rayamajhi said .

Rayamajhi, the second senior-most justice of the SC, however, said there is an urgent need to make the appointment more credible by inserting some provisions in the Interim Constitution regarding the parliamentary hearing. “To make the hearing more effective, some clear provisions should be inserted in the Constitution,” he said, adding: “The Constitutional Council (CC) members should be serious in reforming the judiciary and in CJ appointment.”Rayamajhi is one among the justices eligible for appointment as CJ. The others are: Kedar Prasad Giri, Anup Raj Sharma, Ram Prasad Shrestha and Khil Raj Regmi. “You cannot question the constitutional provision. Constitution has made CC’s recommendation to the appointing authority mandatory for constitutional posts. It should not happen, but the possibility of a constitutional crisis between the Constitutional Council and the legislature cannot be ignored,” he said.He said he is not in the race for the CJ post. “I am not in the race. I am the servant of law and master of my conscience. I am not close to any party. A man of noone is not fit for the race as newspapers reported,” he said. On judicial corruption, Rayamajhi said that it may not be correct to say the people’s trust in judiciary has evaporated. “You may say diminished to some extent. We have been trying to restore confidence.”“We cannot claim that there is no corruption, but it is very difficult to take action against a judge on a charge of corruption. He would be reinstated if we prosecute him without solid evidence and that would create a negative impact. So we had forced many controversial judges to resign in the past 17 years,” he added.

Ananta Raj Luitel in himalayan times
Budgetary autonomy sought for judiciary
A senior Supreme Court judge on Sunday said the Nepalese judiciary lacks financial and administrative autonomy, which are crucial for the independence of the institution.
"There is no use of the other autonomy to the judiciary until budgetary autonomy is granted," said Justice Anup Raj Sharma at a program organized by the Supreme Court branch of Government Employees' Organization, on Sunday.
According to existing practice, Finance Ministry allocates the budget of the judiciary while the government, through the Judicial Service Commission, provides human resources to the third estate.
Though the five-year strategic plan of the judiciary has stressed on autonomy of the judiciary on both fronts, it has not been implemented to date.
"It is not justice to give allowance to one court and deny the same to the staffs of other courts," Sharma said addressing a program organized by the Supreme Court branch of Government Employees' Organization.
In the meantime, speaking at the same program, Nepal Bar Association President Bishwa Kant Mainali urged judges not to be "cowardly" in passing orders even to the Prime Minister with regard to non-implementation of court verdicts and orders.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Rayamajhi report to be public soon
Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula on Saturday said the government would table the Rayamajhi Commission report in the parliament within three days once the next cabinet meeting takes a decision in this regard.
Speaking at the regular sitting of the House, Sitaula said, "Within three days after the next cabinet meeting's decision on the report it will be tabled in the parliament ."
Sitaula said it would take at least 24 hours for any cabinet decision to be matured.
He also informed the parliament that he held a meeting with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala this morning and discussed the issue.
According to Sitaula, the top-brass of the eight-party alliance may hold
an all-party meet before the next cabinet meeting.
Sitaula expressed such commitment after Lilamani Pokharel, lawmaker from People's Front Nepal, requested the Speaker not to proceed the regular business of the House unless the government informed the parliament about the date to table the report in the House.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

No end to gender disparities here: UNFPA report

Nepal’s gender development indicators (GDI) increased from 0.312 to 0.511 over the last nine years, according to a report titled ‘Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women in Nepal’ launched today by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).The GDI value is a composite index measuring the average achievement in three basic dimensions — longevity, education and a standard of living (measured by purchasing power parity, PPP, and income) — adjusted to account for inequalities between men and women. The greater the gender disparity in basic human development index (GDI), the lower is a country’s GDI relative to its HDI.Presenting the highlights of the report, Dr Meena Acharya, gender expert and study team leader, said: “There has been significant progress in women’s access to education and health resources. Yet gender disparities in these key areas continue. Male-female disparities in education increase steadily from the primary to post-graduate levels.”Dr Acharya added that educational and health gains have been distributed very unevenly among various castes and ethnicities, ecological and development regions, and between urban and rural areas. Particularly, Dalit men and women are at the lowest end of all access indicators. The decade-long armed conflict has aggravated the access problem in both education and health.Junko Sazaki, UNFPA representative, said: “Sexual and gender-based violence tends to increase and was overlooked in post-conflict situation. Without addressing the gendered dimensions of the conflict and without women’s direct and active engagement in the peace process, there is little hope in achieving meaningful an sustainable peace.”She added that empowering women is an indispensable strategy for advancing development and reducing poverty.Launching the report, Minister for Foreign Affairs Sahana Pradhan said Nepali women are still deprived of opportunities in comparison to their male counterparts. According to the report, women’s access to fixed assets, property and credit is still very limited.Discriminatory wage structures and unequal access to earned income have not been reduced, but have actually increased over the last ten years both in agriculture and non-agriculture sectors.The report said women still continue to face legal discrimination regarding the most fundamental rights, such as citizenship and inheritance.Women’s representation in political or administrative decision-making bodies has not improved much either, except at the grassroots level in locally elected VDC assemblies.Much effort has been made to strengthen the capacity of the government machinery to understand and deal with gender mainstreaming, particularly in ministries.The UNFPA had commissioned a 1997 study on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. This study is an update of the1997 publication.
SC notices on SLC exam
The Supreme Court (SC) issued show cause notices to government authorities demanding the reason about time management of the supplementary test of the School Leaving Certificate and the system of re-totalling.A single bench of Justice Tahir Ali Ansari issued the notices following today’s hearing. The bench has given a 15-day time frame to the defendants — the Ministry of Education (MoE) and Sports, the Department of Education, the Secondary Education Examination Board, the Examination Controller’s Office and the Examination Controller — to submit their affidavits in the Supreme Court about the policy regarding the SLC examination.A group of lawyers Subhash Paudel, Tikaram Rijal and Bhesh Raj Adhikary has jointly filed a writ petition at the SC demanding mandamus order to make an effective system on rechecking of copies.
JTMM-Jwala captures former CJ's house in Siraha
The Jwala Singh-led Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM) has captured the ancestral house of former Chief Justice Keshav Prasad Upadhyaya in Siraha district.
A group of some 25 JTMM-Jwala cadres led by central leader Swami Yadav captured Upadhyaya’s two-storey house at Bishnupu Chowk in Bishnupur VDC-4 Tuesday night, reports said. The JTMM men also fired shots in air warning of physical action to anybody who buys the property.
Last month, the JTMM had captured the former CJ’s land in Lahan.
Besides targeted killings and abduction, the two JTMM factions have been capturing lands of political leaders and local landlords in Terai districts.
Check authenticity of Bhatarrai’s documents, orders SC
The Special Court (SC) has ordered an examination into the authenticity of documents submitted by the suspended Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Bijaya Nath Bhattarai in connection with the graft charges lodged against him by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Friday.
A combined bench of Special Court judges ordered that the authenticity and proof of documents submitted by the NRB governor Bhattarai should be checked from the NRB over the charges filed against Bhattarai by the CIAA.
In today’s hearing, Bhattarai himself was also present.
The court has also ordered statements from the suspended NRB’s Bank Financial Institutions Regulation Department Surendra Man Pradhan be recorded.The CIAA had filed graft cases at the SC against Bhattarai and suspended executive director Pradhan for serious “financial crimes” on June 29.
The CIAA had charged Bhattarai and Pradhan of embezzling Rs 195.319 million that Nepal had received in foreign aid for financial sector reforms.
Both Bhattarai and Pradhan were automatically suspended from their posts after the CIAA filed the case.
The NRB had handed over the responsibility of the Financial Sector Reform Programme to an American company IAF a year ago with an agreement to provide Rs 19 million to the latter.
The CIAA has claimed in its investigation that the IAF had breached the contract by leaving after working for just around a month and that during this one-month time, the IAF had already received $6.8 m from the NRB.
According to sources, the case was filed against Bhattarai and Pradhan after they failed to demand legal compensation to the tune of over Rs 24 million following a breach of the contract agreement by IAF that had also produced documents of another Sri Lankan company KPNG while signing the contract.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

1,621 kids missing in six months

A total of 1,621 children were reported to have gone missing from acrossthe country during the last six months. Altogether 863 children, including five murdered children, were found from four places, a bi-annual report of the National Centre for Children at Risk (NCCR), which was made public today, stated.According to the report, 21 children out of the 177 missing from the eastern development region were found, 814 children out of 969 were found from the central region, 17 children among 72 missing children were found from the western development region, nine children among the 80 missing were found from the mid-western development region and two children out of the 57 missing children were found from the far-western development region.The NCCR has found 795 children in the Kathmandu Valley, where36.22 per cent were found with the help of various organisations and the police and 28.56 per cent children returned home on their own. The number of missing boys are higher than girls because the boys are more outgoing and mischievous. Children between 11 and 13 are rarely found, while children above 17 years old have a lower missing record.Sushil Ghimire, spokesperson for the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW), said that the missing and found cases are high in the Kathmandu Valley as the NCCR is based in Kathmandu. “The only means of communication for the NCCR is the police network outside the valley.” Extending the NCCR outside the valley could help find the missing children, he added.Speaking at a programme organised to present the bi-annual report today, he said that the places with the facilities of transportation and communication have a high record of missing and found children.Poverty, temptation, family tension, physical and mental torture, sexual harassment and exploitation are the major reasons behind children leaving their homes and work places, according to the report.

Monday, July 23, 2007

SC orders Surya Tobacco verdict review

The Supreme Court on Sunday ordered a review of its controversial verdict on Surya Tobacco Pvt. Ltd, ruling that the nearly 10-year old judgment flouted the set apex court precedents.
Justices Anup Raj Sharma, Bal Ram KC and Rajendra Kumar Bhandari ordered a review in response to a plea filed by Finance Ministry on behalf of the government in 1998. The review order came after a closed-door discussion of the justices.

Passed by the then Justices Hari Prasad Sharma and Harish Chandra Prasad Upadhyay on April 8, 1998, the verdict had nullified the government decision to collect Rs 135.982m excise duty from

the tobacco company as per appendix 3 (note 2) of the Finance Act 1993.

While nullifying, the court had then ruled that the "note" should not be taken as substantive law. When the verdict was passed, the present King Gyanendra, the then prince, was holding majority shares in the company.

The decision to collect excise duty was taken after the Office of the Auditor General found the tobacco company not producing cigarettes in proportion to the used raw materials. The verdict is considered one of the most controversial ones in Nepal's judicial history. Even the parliament had discussed the verdict.

The then Public Accounts Committee of parliament, in its decision on September 13, 1998 had concluded that the judgment "grossly" violated the Excise Duty Act, while ordering the Office of the Attorney General to file a plea for review. There was a strong demand for impeachment of the judges then on the ground of the verdict.

Both the judges who passed the verdict are retired now. Justice Sharma later became Chief Justice while Upadhyay is now dead.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bill to supplant probe panel act

The Nepal Law Commission has drafted a bill to replace the existing Inquiry Commission Act 1968 to push the government to make public and implement reports of the inquiry commissions.Clause 21 of the draft bill states that the government should make public any report prepared by a commission of inquiry to respect the right to information of the people on any matter of public interest.
The bill states that an inquiry commission would be formed only if the parliament directs the government to do so. Till now the power to form such a commission rests with the government.“We think that the bill would make the government more responsible while implementing and making the report public,” Baburaja Joshi, chairman of the NLC told .
“If the parliament endorses the bill, inquiry commission reports will be spared the fate of Mallik and Rayamajhi Commission reports,” Joshi added.“The NLC believes that judicial commissions of inquiry and general commissions should be treated differently,” he said, adding, “The judicial commission should be headed by a sitting SC Justice, with the powers of a court of law.”
“The government should make public the report, keeping under wraps only the sensitive parts concerning the sovereignty and integrity of Nepal and national security,” the bill adds.The bill states that the government should implement any report on the advice of the Attorney General. In case there is a need for further investigation the government can do so if the AG opines.As per Clause 11 of the bill, the inquiry commission would carry its investigation secretly but can make it public if the government requests the commission to do so.
The Clause 19 of the draft bill states the inquiry commission should submit its report to the government in a given time frame. Inquiry commissions should make public the expenditure incurred on the investigation while submitting final report. The bill also empowers the inquiry commissions to slap a fine of Rs 5,000 on anyone for showing disrespect to the panels.
Ananta Raj Luitel in himalayatimes

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Look beyond seniority to pick CJ: AG

Attorney General Yagya Murti Banjade said the next Chief Justice should have a capacity to steer clear the judiciary of the controversies dogging it.Talking to this daily, Banjade said a judge with a clean image should be appointed the next CJ. Debate is on in the legal circles regarding the appointment of the next CJ as incumbent CJ Dilip Kumar Paudel will take compulsory retirement on September 7.

Five Supreme Court Justices — Kedar Prasad Giri, Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Anup Raj Sharma, Ram Prasad Shrestha and Khil Raj Regmi — are in line for the post. Each has more than three years of experience in the SC, a condition set by Article 103 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 to be the CJ.“I’ll make my recommendation to the PM before the appointment, but I cannot make my choice public,” Banjade added.

“We should not ignore anyone without valid reasons,” he said.According to a source close to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, the process to appoint the CJ would begin in the first week of August so that the parliamentary hearing would be over before Justice Paudel retires.“The Constitutional Council should consider a person who can lead the judiciary through difficult times,” Banjade added. Referring to the practice of choosing the CJ solely on the basis of seniority, Banjade said not just seniority, merit and clean image should be also considered.”

Interpreting the spirit of Article 103, Banjade said the Constitution provided discretionary powers to the Constitutional Council headed by the PM to choose anyone from among those eligible for the post of CJ. “Article 103 bars the council to look outside the SC to fill CJ’s post,” he added.
Rajbiraj court employees halt work demanding security
In the wake of reports of increasing number of government employees of hilly origin being a target of violence, abductions and killing in Terai, employees of appellate and district court of Rajbiraj have announced an indefinite strike from Thursday onwards demanding adequate security.
Following the one-week ultimatum of the Jwala Singh faction of Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha (JTMM-J) to all the government employees of hilly origin to leave Terai or face ‘physical actions’, the employees have halted all work demanding security for their lives.
Diwakar Khadka, chairman of Nepal Judiciary Employees Welfare Committee, Appellate Court (Rajbiraj branch) and Indra Bahadur Khadka, chairman of District Court (Rajbiraj branch) said that the employees of both the courts sent a letter to the registrar of the Supreme Court (SC) demanding that they all be transferred. There are altogether 125 employees in both the courts.
Khadka warned that if their demands are not met and anything untoward happens to the employees, then the registrar would have to take full responsibility of it. He said they would not resume their work until their demands are not met. nepalnews

Friday, July 20, 2007

CIAA directives to Udayapur cement factory

The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on thrusday called on the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies to direct the Udayapur Cement Factory (UCF) to check irregularities persisting there.Stating that the then ACC India, now known as ACE Refractories India (ACERI), caused a loss of Rs 3.6 million to the UCF, the CIAA directed the UCF to seek the payment of the amount from the ACERI. The CIAA said the factory incurred the loss because the then ACC India supplied low-quality brick kiln to the factory.“The factory should seek compensation from the ACERI to tide over the loss,” the CIAA said.In a press release, the CIAA also directed the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to terminate a renewed agreement that allows the Himalaya Money Exchange to run money exchange service in the Tribhuvan International Airport.The CIAA said that the agreement was renewed without issuing tenders, as required by the Financial Administration Regulation 1997.

Who would be the next Chief Justice, on what criterion?

As the countdown for Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel’s retirement begins, homework is on for selection of a new Chief Justice.Paudel is due to take compulsory retirement on September 7. Now the question is: Will the Constitutional Council (CC) headed by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala continue the tradition of appointing the senior-most justice as the CJ, or will it adopt the principle of evaluating the merit of other contenders also?Five Supreme Court justices —- Kedar Prasad Giri, Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Anup Raj Sharma, Ram Prasad Shrestha and Khil Raj Regmi — are eligible for appointment as CJ. Each one of them has more than three years’ experience and so are eligible as per Article 103 of the Interim Constitution.According to sources, Giri has got assurances from leaders of the Nepali Congress. However, a few lawyers want Rayamajhi or Sharma for the top post as they had earned a reputation for courage, even during the royal regime, in protecting individual rights. However, Shrestha and Regmi are not in the race.If the CC prefers seniority, Giri would be the next CJ. Otherwise it would be Rayamajhi or Sharma. During the last 16 years all CJs were selected on the basis of seniority though judges with five years’ experience were eligible as per the 1990 Constitution.According to the second amendment of the 2007 Constitution, Article 155, the CJ is appointed by the PM only after parliamentary hearings.Changes in the appointment process have created a space for politicians to play a major role in selecting the new CJ.“It is obvious that those eligible will be involved in the race because of the system we have adopted,” said one SC justice. “The politicians can choose anyone eligible for the post, but they should think about the independence of the Judiciary,” he added.Judges are also divided on the issue. Some have been advocating seniority and others have been pleading for competency as the criterion. “If we want to reform the Judiciary we have to give priority to competence as the criterion,” a judge, who believes in merit- based appointment, told this daily.Those who believe the criterion should be seniority, however, think that selection of the CJ should not hinder the Judiciary’s independence.Prominent Advocate Bharat Raj Upreti said there is no way but to continue the practice of choosing the senior most judge as the next CJ. “If we are not going to choose anyone totally from outside like in America, we have to follow the existing British model,” he added.“If anyone is working in the SC and he did not face any charge why should not we trust him,” Upreti asked.Another lawyer Purna Man Shakya said, “The CC should give strong justification if it wants to break the seniority norm.” Seniority should not be only basis of selecting the CJ, but without justification seniority basis should not be ignored because it may affect the independence of the judiciary “ Shakya added.
(news was published in himalayatimes by Ananta Raj Luitel)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Saptari Court Staffs Seek Group Transfer

Over 125 staffs of the Rajbiraj Appellate Court and Siraha District Court have sought group transfer to safer places due to growing insecurity in the Terai.Sending a letter to Supreme Court registrar today, the court employees said there is no more safe working environment in the Terai due to the violent agitation launched by different groups.Diwakar Prasad Khatiwada, President of the Employees’ Concern Committee at the Rajbiraj Appellate Court, said they had no other option but to seek transfer as the security situation in the Terai has been worsening day by day.Likewise, president of the Employees’ Concern Committee of the Siraha District Court Indra Bahadur Khadka said they have launched a movement by locking the main gate of the court seeking transfer to safer places.The Janatantrik Terai Mukti Morcha led by Jwala Singh had issued an ultimatum to government employees of hill-origin to leave Terai within a week or face physical action.The Morcha activists on Wednesday killed a VDC secretary, Ramhari Pokhrel, by sliting his throat in Siraha three days after his abduction.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cases filed against 9 MPRF cadres
- The district administration in Rautahat on Tuesday detained nine cadres of Madhesi People's Rights Forum (MPRF) for "public offence". The MPRF cadres are in police custody.
Police had arrested the nine cadres, including a central level leader of MPRF on Monday, when they engaged in a serious dispute with representatives of the eight political parties, who had reached the Office of Financial Comptroller to release funds for the District Development Committee.
Maoists have claimed that those arrested were involved in Gaur carnage, in which over two dozen Maoist cadres were killed by MPRF cadres in March.
Among those arrested are MPRF central treasurer Amar Yadav, District president Ganesh Yadav and district secretary Radho Raya Yadav.
Similarly, Nanda Kishore Shah, president of MPRF youth organization, Radhe Raya and Tej Narayan Yadav, both youth members were also arrested. The others arrested are Gauri Sankar Yadav, Shailendra Keshari and Rama Sankar Patel.
Meanwhile, MPRF called a strike in the district on Tuesday demanding immediate release of its cadres. The strike seriously affected life in the district, as vehicles remained off the road and market places shut down.
NBA panel gives CJ clean chit
Concluding that the 'Tulasa scandal' is the handiwork of criminals out to defame the judiciary, the Supreme Court Bar Association has suggested that the government form a high-level commission to investigate the affair that has dogged Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel.
"As the facts will not come out without a probe, there is need for an investigation [into the scandal]," a report prepared by the Supreme Court Bar Association stated.
The SC Bar Association had formed a committee headed by advocate Prakash Osti to investigate allegations of sexual abuse by the Chief Justice reported by Jana Astha Weekly on the basis of an official document. The document was sent by one Tulasa from the central jail in the form of a habeas corpus petition to the Supreme Court.
The committee has also concluded that the affair might be orchestrated by criminals with the intention of defaming the judiciary and its head.
In the meantime, the SC Bar Association on Monday held a discussion on various issues relating to the judiciary.
The discussions focused on the judicial administration, legal failings, case management, the judicial council, the activities of the Judicial Service Commission, the media and the judiciary, etc..
Bar association President Prakash Raut said the recommendations thrown up by the discussion would be incorporated into a report that another committee is preparing to enhance public faith in the judiciary.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Plea against bar on report-indicted

An advocate filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court on sunday seeking an order declaring null and void a provision of the Constituent Assembly Member Election Act, 2007which bars those indicted in the Rayamajhi Commission report from contesting elections.Citing the provision as unconstitutional, illegal and improper, advocate Kamal Raj Dwedi filed the petition. The petitioner said this move is against equality, justice and good conscience and so it should be scrapped. The commission report had indicted 202 persons, including the vice-chairmen of the king Gyanendra-led cabinet, Dr Tulsi Giri and Kirtinidhi Bista, and the then Home Minister, Kamal Thapa.

New parties get election symbols

The Election Commission distributed election symbols to eleven newly registered political parties.According to EC spokesperson Laxman Bhattarai, the Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist have received tree, sun and hammer-and-sickle as election symbols to be used in the coming election of the constituent assembly.Kalash, madal and hand were given as symbols to NC-D, Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party and Nepal Sadbhawana Party-Anandidevi respectively.Glass was given to Jana Morcha Nepal, plough to RPP, umbrella to Rastriya Janashakti Party, sickle to CPN-United and maize was given as symbol to CPN-MLM.“The symbols were given to the parties today as we started the process of formal registration of the parties ,” said Bhattarai.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

SC staff demand clarification from CJ
Supreme Court employees have demanded that Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel dissolve the committee formed to probe the CD scandal.
The scandal is about a recorded conversation between a court official and a court client bargaining for bribe.
Besides, in a memorandum submitted to the Chief Justice, they have urged him to make public the facts relating to recent controversies surrounding his name, reported by media in recent days.
According to recent media reports, the Chief Justice has been facing charges of breach of code of conduct, and involvement in sexual abuse.
"Our conclusion is that
the CD Probe Committee headed by Justice Tap Bahadur Magar cannot probe the scandal independently," reads the memorandum to the Chief Justice by Nepal Civil Employees' Organization, Supreme Court Branch.
Besides, the apex court employees have demanded that either the Judicial Council or the parliament form an all-powerful commission to investigate the CD scandal.
In the memorandum, the court employees have sought arrangement of judicial allowance and a separate law to govern court staff from the court administration.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

SC order on preservation of Devghat

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a directive to the government and the Ministry of Culture Tourism and Civil Aviation to do the needful for the preservation of Devghat, an important religious spot.A division bench of justices Bal Ram KC and Sharada Shrestha issued the order in response to a PIL filed by Acharya Narayan Prasad Timsina “Madhup” three years ago.The bench directed the ministry to make the Devghat Development Committee capable of controlling mismanagement of the religious spot.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Chief Justice Paudel appoints SC judges

Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel yesterday appointed four ad hoc judges Damodar Prasad Sharma, Ram Kumar Prasad Shah, Kalyan Shrestha and Gauri Dhakal whose names were approved by the parliamentary public hearing committee on Friday.“The Chief Justice, who is the chairman of the Judicial Council, has appointed them yesterday,” secretary of the Judicial Council Prakash Kumar Dhungana said. According to him, the Chief Justice will make them take the oath of office soon. The parliamentary hearing committee, after conducting the hearing, had approved the recommendations of the Judicial Council to appoint them in the permanent posts.This is the first time the CJ has appointed SC judges as Article 103 (1) of the interim statute has given the authority to the Chief Justice. The King used to appoint judges in the past.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CIAA Grills Tulsi Giri

The Commission for the Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) on Monday grilled Tulsi Giri in connection with abuse of authority during the royal regime. This is the second time the anti-corruption agency has interrogated him based on the report of the Rayamajhi Commission. "We are probing the charges against him. He was let off with a condition to appear again," a CIAA top source said on Monday.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Suspended Governor released on bail
The Special Court Friday released the suspended Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Bijay Nath Bhattarai, who is facing corruption charges, on Rs 250,000 bail.
Following a hearing today, a bench comprising justices Bhup Dhoj Adhikari, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra Shumsher Rana granted him bail.
Bhattarai, who remained in overnight police custody, deposited the bail amount today itself and walked free.
On Monday, the three-member bench had asked Bhattarai to appear before the court within 15 days. On the same day, the bench released co-accused Surendra Man Pradhan, the executive director of the bank's Financial Institutions Regulation Department, on Rs 50,000 bail.
Bhattarai and Pradhan have been accused of embezzling Rs 24.5 million in terminating a contract of a foreign company in the multi-million dollar Financial Sector Reforms Programme launched with foreign aid.
The CIAA had filed the graft case against the NRB bosses on June 28
House panel approves judges’ nominations
The Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee on Friday unanimously approved the nominations of four ad hoc judges of the Supreme Court to permanent status.
The committee gave its approval to the nominations of four judges- Damodar Prasad Sharma, Ram Kumar Prasad Shah, Gauri Dhakal and Kalyan Shrestha – after a hearing today.
The judges, who have been recommended by the Judicial Council for permanent status, were questioned separately by the House panel regarding the complaints about their integrity and other professional issues.
The committee, which had registered altogether 14 complaints, said there were no serious charges against any of the nominee.
This was the first hearing of his kind in the history of Nepal’s judiciary.
The second amendment in the Interim Constitution last month made it mandatory for judge-nominees to go through parliamentary hearing.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Suspended NRB governor under judicial custody; hearing resumes Friday
The Special Court on Thursday sent the suspended Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) governor Bijayanath Bhattarai, who faces financial embezzlement charges by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), to judicial custody.
Bhattarai is being kept at the Singha Durbar Ward Police Office until the hearing on his case resumes again on Friday.
During today’s hearing at the Special Court, the government lawyers put forward their arguments against the governor, while Bhattarai’s lawyers were unable to defend the charges due to lack of time.
The Special Court has ordered the police to bring Bhattarai to the court Friday morning.
Bhattarai, who was ordered by the Special Court last Monday (July 2) to appear before the court within 15 days to register his statement, reached the court at 9:45 this morning.
According to the registrar of the court Lekhnath Paudel, a bench of the Special Court comprising Chairman Bhupadhwoj Adhikari and members Komalnath Sharma and Cholendra Shumshere Rana had interrogated Bhattarai.
Paudel had earlier said that if the proceedings finished soon, then the court would give its verdict on the case on Thursday.
The CIAA had filed graft cases at the Special Court against Bhattarai and executive director of the NRB’s Bank Financial Institutions Regulation Department Surendra Man Pradhan for serious “financial crimes” last Friday.
The CIAA had charged Bhattarai and Pradhan of embezzling Rs 195.319 million that Nepal had received in foreign aid for financial sector reforms.
Both Bhattarai and Pradhan were automatically suspended from their posts after the CIAA filed the case.
The NRB had handed over the responsibility of the Financial Sector Reform Programme to an American company, IEF, a year ago with an agreement to provide Rs 19 million to the latter.
The CIAA has claimed in its investigation that the IEF had breached the contract by leaving after working for just around a month and that during this one-month time, the IEF had already received $6.8 m from the NRB.
However, Bhattarai has been claiming that the CIAA charges are false.
Show cause on travel ban plea against ex-COAS

The Supreme Court issued show cause notices to the government authorities on a demand of a writ petitioner to bar former Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Pyar Jung Thapa and four other army officials from going abroad.A single bench of Justice Top Bahadur Magar was responding to a writ petition filed by former vice-president of the Maoist-affiliated students’ union, ANNISU-R, Krishna KC, yesterday. The bench told the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Ministries of Home, Defence and Foreign Affairs, the Police Headquarters, the Human Rights Cell of Army headquarters, the National Human Rights Commission to submit affidavits within 15 days.The petitioner demanded that the Supreme Court issue a mandamus order to the government authorities to bar the former army chief and the four officials from going abroad. The petitioner claimed that the former army chief and the army officials were accused of torturing detainees during the royal regime and the state of emergency clamped by former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba. According to the petitioner, the army officials had tortured 49 Maoist detainees and spirited them away.KC demanded that the passports of Thapa and army officers Raju Basnet, Bibek Bista, Indibar Rana and Dilip Rayamajhi be seized.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

CJ slams allegations as “attempt to defame judiciary”
Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel on Sunday dismissed allegations that he met the parties to sub judice cases at his official Baluwatar residence - a violation of national and international codes of conduct for judges.
The CJ further defended himself stating that the allegation was an attempt to defame judiciary.
Breaking his long silence on the allegations, the CJ denied that he had met any parties to sub judice cases while talking to media persons at Tribhuwan International Airport before leaving on an invitation by his Chinese counterpart to China today.
However, evidence obtained by the media show that the CJ met President of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Rabindra Nath Sharma, twice at his official quarters ahead of Special Court hearings in two cases concerning Sharma.
When asked that there was sufficient proof that he met the parties to sub judice cases, the CJ Paudel tried to defend himself unsuccessfully and later chose to walk out of the conference room.
"Such allegations and news reports are an attempt to defame judiciary. In my four-decade long career, I've contributed much to the judiciary of the country. I have not violated any code of conducts. Even the thought of violating them has never occurred to me," the CJ tried to convince the media persons in the room.
Claiming that he would have to meet many people in several parties and functions as the CJ of the country, he dismissed allegations that he met any party to sub judice cases at his official residence.
When media persons asked him that RPP President Sharma had also accepted that he met the CJ and that there were enough proofs that he met other parties to sub judice cases under his jurisdiction, Paudel chose not to reply and instead walked out of the room.
Sharma, who was given clean chit by the Supreme court on Wednesday, met the CJ at his official residence first on March 6, three weeks ahead of a hearing in Sharma's case at the Special Court. Besides Sharma, the CJ also met former minister Khum Bahadur Khadka and former Deputy Inspector General of Police Kumar Koirala at his official residence. Both Khadka and Koirala are facing cases at the Supreme Court.
The National Code of Conduct for Judges,1998 and the internationally accepted Bangalore Principles on Judicial Conduct 2002, guidelines intended to establish standards for the ethical conduct of judges, say that a judge should not meet parties to cases being considered in court.
The 19-point national code of conduct, endorsed by a national conference of judges in 1998, states under point number 14 that judges should not have any "dealing" with the parties to cases. "Dealing" also means meeting, says former Supreme Court justice Laxman Prasad Aryal, one of the architects of the code.
The Bangalore Principle is even more explicit on the issue. It says, "A judge shall not allow the use of the judge's residence by a member of the legal profession to receive clients or other members of the legal profession."
However, the existing laws in the country don't say anything about the punishment of judges who breach the code of conduct.
Case filed against NTV GM at CIAA
Nepal Television (NTV) News Editor Rajendra Raj Timalsina on Sunday filed a case against the channel’s General Manager (GM) at the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) for committing “irregularities” while publishing results of the examinations for the permanent staff appointment.
The case has alleged GM Madan Kumar Sharma of providing the code numbers of the test takers to examiners close to him against the NTV’s examination directives and ethics.
Timalsina has demanded actions against the GM for worked against the regulations and morals.
Timilsina has also provided an audio CD with recorded report of the examiner, who was put under pressure to pass certain examinees by GM Madan Kumar Sharma in violation of regulations and ethics.
Besides CIAA, Timilsina has also filed applications at the Ministry of Communications and NTV management committee.
The Communication Ministry had summoned GM Sharma today and recorded his statement.