Friday, August 31, 2007

SC verdict on royal ministers’ plea on September 10

The Supreme Court said on thrusday, it will decide whether or not to issue a stay order against the government authorities that have debarred the Rayamajhi Commission-indicted from contesting the November constituent assembly elections on September 10.The Rayamajhi Commission-indicted had appealed to the SC to issue a stay order against the authorities. A single bench of Justice Tahir Ali Ansari issued the order following today’s initial hearing. The bench summoned the Parliament Secretariat, Speaker Subas Nembang and the Election Commission to attend the hearing on September 10.The bench also issued show cause notices to the authorities to submit their written affidavits within 15 days on why they have barred the Rayamajhi Commission-indicted from the polls. The bench was responding to a writ petition filed by former ministers of king Gyanendra-led cabinet challenging a provision of Constituent Assembly Member Election Act 2007. Former home minister and leader of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, Kamal Thapa, and former information and communications minister Tanka Dhakal are among those who moved the apex court. As per Clause 19 (G) of the Act, they have been debarred from contesting the polls.Claiming that the provision was against the spirit of the Interim Constitution 2007, they sought the apex court order to declare Clause 19 (G) of the Act null and void. The petitioners also claimed that the provision of the 2007 Act contradicts with Articles 12 (1)(2)(3), 13 (1)(2) and 24 of the Interim Constitution and the Act has violated their right to lead a dignified life in the country as citizens.
OHCHR Wants High-level Panel on Disappearances

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)-Nepal on Thursday called on the government to from an independent high-level commission on missing persons.The OHCHR call came as the world celebrated the International Day of the Disappeared on Thursday.According to the UN body, hundreds of individuals disappeared in Nepal during the decade-long conflict, including those held in secret detention centres and tortured in army barracks or disappeared after being abducted by Maoists."The OHCHR-Nepal has continually urged the Government of Nepal to establish a commission to investigate the whereabouts of the disappeared and to prosecute individuals from both parties to the conflict who are found responsible for those acts," a press release issued by the OHCHR said.Acting Representative of OHCHR-Nepal, Sandra Beidas, said that the historic June 1 verdict of the Supreme Court on the missing persons should be followed and a commission of inquiry based on international human rights standards set up."This decision raised hopes that steps would finally be taken to meet the families' demands for truth, justice and reparations. However, three months later the Supreme Court ruling has yet to be implemented," the statement said."The relatives of those who disappeared have the right to know the full truth about what happened to their loved ones and to seek justice and reparations," the OHCHR stated.According to it, steps should be taken as per the SC ruling. It will show that the eight-party government is seriously tackling the issue of disappearances and taking steps to prevent them from recurring in Nepal, the OHCHR added.
‘SC order on disappearance ignored’
United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Thursday said the government hasn't yet implemented a Supreme Court order to address the issue of disappearances.
In a press statement, the OHCHR said the High-Level Commission to Probe Disappeared Persons (HLCPDP), which the government has recently formed, fails to honor international standards. "The independence and credibility of the Commission is in question," the statement said.
It said hundreds of people, who were at army barracks, have remained disappeared after torture and secret detention. Similarly, many people have remained disappeared after abduction by the Maoists, it added.
"The probe commission should ensure the protection and security of the victims," it said. The hearings of the inquiry commission should be conducted in public, it added.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

No info on 1,042 missing persons: ICRC

The number of disappeared persons in the country has topped thousand and the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) has put the figure at 1,042.Mary Werntz, head of ICRC delegation to Nepal, told mediapersons here on the eve of International Day of Disappeared: “The ICRC list of missing persons published in February had 812 names. With more families reporting cases of disappearance, the ICRC has revised the figure to 1,042.” She said the figure may have to be revised again. She blamed 10-year-old conflict in the country for the slew of disappearance cases.“The government of Nepal has not yet fulfilled its obligations under international humanitarian law to the thousands of families of missing persons, who still do not know whether their relatives were dead or alive,” she lamented.Jean-Paul Carboz, ICRC protection officer, said though the government of Nepal was planning a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there should be a separate commission on missing persons. “The eight-party government should form the commission on missing persons as per the Peace Accord signed by the government and the Maoists in accordance with the spirit of Interim Constitution of Nepal-2007,” he added.The ICRC recommended the government to ratify international laws and treaties, including the 1977 additional Geneva Conventions protocol, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and the new UN Convention for the Protection from Enforced
CC recommends Kedar Prasad Giri as new SC Chief Justice
The meeting of Constitutional Council Thursday decided to recommend Supreme Court (SC) Justice Kedar Prasad Giri as the new Chief Justice of the SC.
The council recommended Giri for the post as the incumbent Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel is retiring on September7.
Likewise, Kedar Nath Upadhaya has been recommended as the chair of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), said Speaker Subash Nembang, also a member of the Constitutional Council (CC).
The meeting of the council held today at Prime Minister’s official residence at Baluwatar also decided to recommend names of former Supreme Court justice, Ram Nagina Singh as member of the NHRC while Gauri Pradahan and Lila Pathak and Dr KB Rokaya as the rights activists of the commission.
Earlier, former Supreme Court justice Bishwa Natha Upadaya had declined the government’s proposal to chair the NHRC.
Speaker Nembang also informed that the selected names would be sent to the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee for approval.However, the meeting of the council has decided to hold another meeting soon to appoint the officials at government offices including Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Office of the Auditor General and Public Service Commission among others.
The Constitutional Council headed by Prime Minister includes House Speaker, Chief Justice, Law Minister and other three ministers recommended him.At present, there are five Supreme Court Justices eligible for the post of the Chief Justice, namely Kedar Prasad Giri (senior most), Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Anup Raj Sharma, Ram Prasad Shrestha and Khil Raj Regmi.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

SC denies drug peddler right to appeal

The Supreme Court on Sunday quashed an appeal filed by drug peddler Dil Bahadur Gurung.
A division bench of Justices Bal Ram KC and Pawan Kumar Ojha said Gurung cannot appeal as he did not surrender in the Kathmandu District Court, which had convicted him on a drug peddling case. The bench said that a person cannot appeal without surrendering in the court that convicted him/her.
“Since Gurung did not surrender before the bench, he cannot seek an appeal right through a habeas corpus petition,” the bench ruled.
Supreme Court Justice Paramananda Jha was last year demoted for releasing the drug peddler on bail two years ago. Convicting Gurung, the Kathmandu District Court had slapped an eight-year jail sentence on him.
The Narcotic Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit had arrested Gurung from Shiphal after he failed to surrender on August 7.
The Judicial Council headed by Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel had demoted Jha for “improperly” acquitting Gurung on September 17 last year.
Police first arrested Gurung when he was trying to smuggle 679 kg of marijuana to Holland around three years ago.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

SC rejects Sobhraj’s plea to argue

The Supreme Court on monday debarred international serial killer Charles Gurumkh Sobhraj from putting forth his arguments before a bench hearing his case.Sobhraj was produced in the court under heavy security as he had filed a plea requesting the court to let him appear before the bench to defend a new fact presented by government attorneys in the last hearing.Standing in the dock, Sobhraj tried to put forth his arguments, but the judges did not allow him to speak a word. “We have a practice that the accused is not allowed to argue when the hearing has begun and the laywers have been pleading,” Justice Anup Raj Sharma said. A division bench comprising Justices Sharma and Top Bahadur Magar has been hearing the case. Justice Sharma, however, said the bench would consider whether or not to allow him to speak after his lawyers conclude their arguments.The government attorneys had on Friday said that Sobhraj had admitted in an Indian court that he had visited Nepal in 1975.“I am here to say something,” Sobhraj told journalists before he went into the courtroom. “The prosecution lawyers’ claim is baseless. I never gave such a statement in the court in India,” he claimed.According to him, a Delhi court had acquitted him in the case related to the murder of one Luck Soleman.Today, lawyers Dr Rajit Bhakta Pradhananga and Ramesh Prasad Koirala pleaded on behalf of Johan Calaborn Bronzich — the father of Connie Jo Bronzich, the murdered woman. The next hearing will be conducted on September 9.

NRB guv case hearing begins

The Special Court on Monday started a final hearing on a corruption case filed by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) against Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank, Bijaya Nath Bhattarai and its Executive Director Surendra Man Pradhan. Government attorneys Surya Pokhrel and Diwarkar Bhatta pleaded on behalf of the CIAA, while advocate Bharat Raj Uprety represented Bhattarai and Pradhan.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Constituency delineation commission submits report to PM
The Electoral Constituency Delineation Commission has submitted its report to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala Monday morning, a month after it was finalised.
Chief of the committee, former justice Arjun Prasad Singh, said minor changes have been made in 47 constituencies without alternating the 240 total constituencies. He said these are technical changes only.
The government had asked the committee to review the report after the Madhesi groups protested against the delineation of the constituencies earlier. The Madhesi groups had said the delineation was not justifiable owing to the population of the Terai region.
Due to delay in receiving the report, the Election Commission has not been able to fix the election booths in Terai districts.
Royalist ministers, officials move SC against poll-ban rule
The ministers and administrators of the erstwhile King-led government have registered a case at the Supreme Court (SC) demanding the scrapping of the provision of the Constituent Assembly Member Election Act-2007 that bars them from contesting the November 22 CA elections.
The Act bars those appointed to key administrative positions by the king during his direct rule and those found guilty of suppressing the April Movement by the Rayamajhi Commission from contesting the CA elections.
In the case filed at the SC, former ministers, administrators and political appointees who served during the royal government have claimed that Clause 19 (G) of the Act was against the Interim Constitution-2007.
Ex-royal ministers Kamal Thapa, Tanka Dhakal, Durga Shrestha, Roshan Karki, Bbuwan Pathak, Durga Shrestha, and former regional administrator Ganesh Sherchan are among the former royal officials who have filed the case demanding the Apex Court declares the Clause 19 (G) of the polls Act null and void and allows them to participate in the election process and the CA election in November.
Speakers of the Interim Legislature-Parliament Subash Nemwang and the Election Commission have been made defendants in the case.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sobhraj had visited Nepal in 1975, SC told

Government attorneys today produced evidence in the Supreme Court, in which jailed international serial killer Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj has admitted before an Indian Court that he had visited Nepal in 1975.During friday’s hearing in the Supreme Court, on the appeal filed by Sobhraj, government Deputy Attorney Brajesh Pyakurel produced a text of the verdict of an Indian Trial Court.Attorney Pyakurel said, “Sobhraj’s claim that he did not visit Nepal in 1975, when the crime for which he has been convicted, is false.”Producing the text of judgment on Government of India vs Sobhraj, in which Sobhraj had been sentenced to a seven- year jail term for murdering Luke Soleman, Pyakurel claimed that Sobhraj’s plea of alibi is false.“During the trial in Indian court, Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj had recorded his statement admitting that he had visited Nepal in 1975; and now how can he claim that he had notvisited Nepal in 1975?” Pyakurel asked.He also asked the bench to consider this piece of information as evidence and claimed that there is a practice that a piece of information recorded in any judicial authority in any country can be taken as evidence in another country .Now, on the basis of this evidence, the court has no ground but to uphold the verdicts issued by lower courts, another government Deputy Attorney Rewati Raj Tripathi claimed.A division bench of justices Anup Raj Sharma and Top Bahadur Magar has been hearing Sobhraj’s appeal against the verdicts of Kathmandu District Court and Patan Appellate Court, based on which he is serving a life sentence.Earlier today, Sobhraj’s lawyers Rajaram Dhakal and Ram Bandhu Sharma had concluded their arguments.The investigation was weak and the allegation baseless so the apex court cannot uphold the lower court verdicts, Dhakal claimed.Duplicate photos and the documents gathered from various international agencies cannot be taken as evidence, he said.Advocate Sharma also questioned the documents sent by various foreign authorities. The next hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Justice turning ‘frighteningly’ expensive for hoi polloi

How costly is justice in Nepal? Consider these: Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj has been paying his leading lawyers 700 to 1,000 US dollars per hearing in the Supreme Court and 300 to 500 dollars per hearing for those lawyers assisting them.

Sobhraj’s lawyer Rajaram Dhakal admitted it. Former attorney general Badri Bahadur Karki, senior advocate Basanta Ram Bhandari, advocates Lokbhakta Rana, Rajaram Dhakal and Ram Bandhu Sharma have been defending Sobhraj.They have been defending him since his arrest in 2003 on a charge of murdering two backpackers in 1975. “It depends on hearing and the time consumed in the hearing process and other things,” Dhakal added. Asked whether their fee is too expensive, Dhakal replied: “Not for French national Sobhraj, as Nepal’s legal system has become much expensive.”“Because of procedural difficulties, a client has to pay for a long time and so he may feel justice is expensive,” he added.The fee the lawyers charge shows the country’s legal system is getting expensive for the poor.

Prominent lawyers Harihar Dahal, Bharat Raj Uprety, Anil Kumar Sinha, Badri Bahadur Karki, Sushil Pant, and Shambhu Thapa fall in the league of the most expensive lawyers. Ganesh Raj Sharma, Basanta Ram Bhandari, Radheshyam Adhikary and Kamal Narayan Das constitute the second most expensive rung.According to a lawyer, the most expensive among the lawyers have been earning around Rs 10 lakh a month and the second most expensive lawyers Rs three lakh a month. The third set of expensive lawyers has been earning around Rs one lakh every month; the next lot earns just enough. However, only a few have been paying tax in the ratio of their income.Those lawyers who plead cases related with business sector, company, murder cases, corruption cases have been earning much. “Even poor people have been getting justice. So it is wrong to say that justice is expensive,” Shambhu Thapa .

“There is a practice of providing legal aid to the poor and even we have been helping those who cannot afford to pay much”.Attorney General Yagya Murti Banjade said he was surprised to learn that some lawyers have been earning a fabulous amount. “Some lawyers have been earning millions of rupees annually,” Banjade added. “I never expect that much, even though I have spent a long time as a lawyer,” he said.Vice President of Nepal Bar Association Hari Prasad Uprety said the system has failed to provide justice to the people as it is too expensive. Many people, even if they were more sinned against than sinning or got a raw deal, shun courts as the system is “frighteningly expensive”, he reasoned. He added it should be an issue how much lawyers charge and from whom. “No question should be raised if the client can pay but we should not charge anyone who cannot,” he added.A lawyer wag said it all: The poor get cheap lawyers, the affluent and the crooks, legal hawks. Touche!

Ananta Raj Luitel @ himalayatimes
TRC Bill is seriously flawed: ICJ, HRW
Two prominent international organisations working for human rights and justice have said the draft bill for the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is seriously flawed as it threatens victims of the decade-long armed conflict their rights to truth, justice and reparation.
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the bill's provisions on issues like amnesty and the commission's independence from the government do not meet international legal standards.
The two watchdogs said the bill fails to reflect the international standards adopted in 2005 by the United Nations on the right to a remedy and reparation for victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.
“These standards, known as the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights, are based on international legal obligations, including Nepal's specific treaty obligations,” a release issued on Wednesday by the Geneva-based ICJ, which also included comments from the HRW, stated.
The draft Truth and Reconciliation Commission Bill 2007 proposes the establishment of a commission with a mandate to investigate gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity committed during the armed conflict that took place between government forces and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) between 1996 and 2006
The commission's proposed mandate would not address serious violations of international humanitarian law and that the bill also fails to clarify that the terms "gross violation of human rights" and "crimes against humanity" must be defined and applied in a manner that meets international standards, the release said.
"Thousands of Nepalis were killed or forcibly disappeared in the civil war, and their families have rights to truth, justice and reparation," said Sophie Richardson, Asia advocacy director of HRW. "But instead of delivering truth and justice, this draft bill could be used to let perpetrators off the hook."
Similarly, Deputy Secretary-General at the ICJ, Wilder Tayler, said, “The commission's legitimacy will also depend on the popular support it has from the people of Nepal, particularly the victims of the conflict."
While the proposed draft states that amnesty will not be provided to any person involved in "murder committed after taking under control or carried out in an inhuman manner; inhuman and cruel torture; rape," the vagueness of these terms creates leeway for amnesties for those responsible for murder or torture that the commission defines as not inhuman or cruel, the release further said.
The two organisations also urged the Nepal government to clarify that the terms "gross violation of human rights" and "crimes against humanity" are to be applied in accordance with international legal practice to ensure that any serious infringement of Nepal's international human rights obligations is duly investigated and that no acts that adversely affected civilians during the conflict are left out of the scope of the bill.
They also urged transparency in appointment procedures such as public hearings of the commissioners, and stressed that the preamble of the bill, which incorporates the objectives of the commission, should include objectives that duly fulfill Nepal's treaty obligations.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

CJ retiring on Sept 7, CC yet to pick his successor

Though the incumbent Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel is retiring on September 7, the Constitutional Council (CC) has not yet started the process for appointing his successor.According to a source close to the PM’s Office and Cabinet, the Council has not met due to differences among the ruling-party members. The source said the CPN-Maoist is creating obstacles to appointments in constitutional posts.
“The Maoists have forwarded conditions like allocating one-third of the constitutional positions to them. This is why the Council has not been able to meet,” the source told The Himalayan Times.According to a constitutional provision, candidates chosen for constitutional posts have to be recommended to the parliamentary
Hearing Special Committee two weeks ahead of such appointments.As per the Interim Constitution, the PM appoints the CJ and other constitutional nominees after the parliamentary hearing is over.Meanwhile, a member of the Council said that the Council would meet tomorrow or the day after. PM Koirala-headed Council has six other ex-officio members, including the Chief Justice, the Speaker and three ministers assigned by the PM, among others.
Koirala has assigned ministers Ram Chandra Paudel, Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Pradip Nepal to participate in the CC meeting.The Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, according to the source, “are taking stance for appointing CJ without any further delay even if other constitutional appointments are not possible immediately.”
The posts of CIAA chief commissioner, NHRC chairman and members and Auditor General are lying vacant for long. “The Maoists are in favour of filling up all vacant posts, but they have not given the list of their nominees,” he added.According to the Judicial Council secretary Prakash Kumar Dhungana, the JC wrote to the Constitutional Council requesting it to start process for Chief Justice’s appointment a week ago.
The JC has sent personal details of the judges with three-year experience in the Supreme Court - Kedar Prasad Giri, Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Anup Raj Sharma, Ram Prasad Shrestha and Khil Raj Regmi - who are eligible for the top post of the Judiciary.Hemanta Rawal, assistant spokesperson of the SC, said that the apex court had written to the Constitutional Council on August 16 requesting it to start process for CJ’s appointment.
Ananta Raj Luitel in himalayan times

Monday, August 20, 2007

EC publicizes election schedule
The Election Commission Sunday publicized the programme for the Constituent Assembly elections.
It has announced two separate schedules for the first-past-the-post and proportional electoral systems.
As per the schedule for the first-past-the-post-system, the candidates will have to file their nominations from 10 am to 5 pm on October 5.
The commission will publicise the initial list of candidates on October 6. Complaints against the nominations can be filed the following day. The commission will then review the complaints, and publicise the second list of the candidates by October 8.
The candidates can withdraw their nominations on October 9. The commission will then publicize the final list on October 10 and allot the election symbols on October 11.
Similarly, for the proportional electoral system, the political parties must submit an enclosed list of candidates on September 30.
The parties will be notified to correct the enclosed list on October 1, and they will have to submit the amended list on October 8. The enclosed list will be publicised on October 15.
After following a similar process used for the first-past-the-post system, the commission will publicise the final enclosed list of candidates for the proportional electoral system on November 2 and distribute the election symbols on the same day.
Voting for both the elections will take place from 7 am to 5 pm across the country on November 22.
The commission has informed that vote counting for the first-past-the-post system will not start until all ballot boxes from all the polling booths are collected.
As per the Constituent Assembly elections Act, the commission will declare the candidates elected under the proportional electoral system on the basis of the proportion of the valid votes obtained by the concerned parties after the commission receives the final valid vote counts from across the country.

SC to boost security in Tarai courts

A full court meeting of the Supreme Court justices decided to adopt security measures in courts in the Tarai as per the recommendation of a panel formed to resolve security problems there.The panel comprising justices Ram Prasad Shrestha, Sharada Prasad Pundit and Rajendra Kumar Bhandari had submitted its report to Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel on August 9. “The meeting has decided to implement the report,” assistant spokesperson of the apex court Hemanta Rawal said.“The SC administration will adopt suitable measures after consulting the chiefs of various security agencies,” Rawal added. “Either we will request them to provide additional security for judges and court staffers there or we will transfer them (judges and court staffers of hill origin) to suitable places,” he added. According to Rawal, the meeting has reviewed the security situation in the Judiciary and demanded more security in the benches. “The decision has been taken keeping in mind the possible threat to judges while hearing cases in benches,” he added.The meeting also decided to implement another report prepared by a separate panel of judges that studied a case concerning conversations between a person and court staffers regarding the issueance of a verdict in his favour. The panel comprising judges Top Bahadur Magar, Damodar Prasad Sharma, and Ram Kumar Prasad Shah has recommended the SC administration not to promote Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel’s former personal assistant Shreekrishna Bhattarai and Section Officer Baburam Dahal for the next five years for allegedly assuring one Rajesh Shakaya to issue a verdict in his favour by influencing judges. The panel also suggested to prevent Shakya from entering any court of law as per court rules, as he defamed the image of the Judiciary.The panel also recommended the monitoring of judges’ code of conduct and its implementation. It also suggested to frame a code of conduct for court journalists and provide training to those do not have legal knowledge for the dissemination of legal news.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Parliament passes CA Polls Court bill
The Interim Legislature-Parliament on Friday passed the Constituent Assembly Elections Court Bill 2064.
This was the last bill pending for ratification by parliament for the Constituent Assembly polls.
The Constituent Assembly Elections Bill has a provision to establish a court that will look into contentious issues and investigate them during the polls.
The court will be headed by a Supreme Court justice with two members to be nominated by the Judicial Council.
The court will also have the authority to invalidate the polls if any irregularities are found during the elections.
No one would be able to move any court once the Constituent Assembly Court gives its verdict in a case.
Earlier, a meeting of the Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Committee had passed the Constituent Assembly Polls Bill and tabled it at parliament.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

NBA Slams JC Over Judges’ Selection

The Nepal Bar Association (NBA) on Tuesday criticised the Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel-headed Judicial Council (JC) for initiating a process for the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court and appellate courts without consulting the lawyers’ body.In a letter, the NBA urged the JC not to appoint judges without consulting it (NBA). “The act of the Judicial Council to appoint judges without consulting the NBA is objectionable,” the letter signed by NBA’s acting president Hari Prasad Uprety said.“We have learnt that the Judicial Council has initiated a process for judges’ appointment without consulting us; this letter has been written to urge the JC not to go ahead without consulting us,” Uprety said.The Interim Constitution has recognised the NBA as a partner of the judiciary and the lawyers have been demanding the NBA’s involvement in the judges’ appointment.
Court issues stay order in APCA Nepal case
The Patan Appellate Court Wednesday issued a stay order asking the Maoist-aligned trade union workers not to disrupt work at The Himalayan Times and Annapurna Post dailies.
The Maoist-aligned trade union workers have been disrupting distribution and printing of the two dailies for the last five days.
Responding to a petition filed by Asia Pacific Communication Associates (APCA) Nepal, marketer of the two dailies, a division bench comprising justices Krishna Prasad Basyal and Hari Bahadur Basnet issued the stay order at today's hearing asking the workers not to obstruct the printing and distribution of the two dailies.

Monday, August 13, 2007

All ten accused get clean chit in Lauda Air Case

The Special Court Monday gave a clean chit to all ten accused including former Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister Taruni Dutt in a seven years old controversial Lauda Air lease deal.
A division bench of judges Bhoopdhoj Adhikary, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana acquitted all six accused, citing lack of evidence to prove them wrong.
In its decree, the bench has noted that “the (former Royal) Nepal Airlines Corporation has the right to take planes on lease and that there is no proper procedure” on acquiring aircrafts on lease.
The then RNAC Executive Chairman Hari Bhakta Shrestha and the Board members Tirthalal Shrestha, Gaurinath Sharma, Siddharaj Joshi, executives U P Upadhyaya and Pushkar Wagle, and the executives of Vienna-based airlines Andrea Molineri and Otmar Lenz are other those receiving the clean chit.
On May 24, 2001, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of the Authority (CIAA) had moved the Special Court, charging the ten persons with embezzling Rs 389 million through the 18-month lease deal.
The CIAA had also admonished then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala in connection with the case.
Parliament okays five bills
The parliament on Sunday passed the Customs Bill, Nepal Academy Bill, Nepal Lalitkala Academy Bill, Nepal Music and Theatre Academy Bill and Foreign Employment Bill, 2064 BS.
Proposals to this effect were presented in the meeting by Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Prithivi Subba Gurung and Minister of State for Labour Ramesh Lekhak.State Affairs Committee member, Amod Prasad Upadhyaya, presented the bill related to Decorations, 2064 BS, including the report of the committee in the meeting. Member of the International Relations Committee, Jhalanath Khanal, presented the bill related to Non-Resident Nepalis, including the committee report in the meeting. RSS

CJ Paudel Wants Independence of Judiciary

Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel on Sunday called for the protection of judicial independence."Only an independent judiciary can strengthen Lokatantra and everyone should keep this in mind," Paudel said at a programme organised by the council on Sunday to mark 14th Nepal Bar Council (NBC) Day.Paudel also called for good relations between the judiciary and lawyers for the rule of law and judicial independence.Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Narendra Bikram Nembang, said that the government is preparing to solve the problems facing the judges and court staffers in the Tarai. "The government is committed to solving the problems through peaceful ways. The government will opt for legal ways if the problems can be resolved through peaceful ways," he added.Attorney-general and chairman of the NBC, Yagya Murti Banjade, said lawyers can play a crucial role in maintaining the rule of law in the country. He also called for the implementation of the code of conduct of lawyers and stressed the need to make the legal practitioners more skilled.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Implement verdict on missing: SC

The Supreme Court wrote to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) to strictly implement the SC’s two-month-old verdict that had directed the government to provide compensation to 83 families of the disappeared and promulgate an Act criminalising forced disappearances.
A section of the Supreme Court which works and monitors the implementation of verdicts wrote to the Office of the Attorney General to immediately implement the landmark verdict.
“This would take time as the verdict has called for the promulgation of an Act and formation of a commission. However, we have already initiated the process of its implementation,” Yagya Murti Banjade, Attorney General, told .
Citing the verdict, the Monitoring and Implementation Division of the Supreme Court told the OAG to implement the verdict soon and inform about the implementation.“Inform the apex court after providing amounts to the families of the victims as per the order,” the letter signed by SC official Prakash Pundit stated.
On June 1, the apex court had issued a mandamus order to the government to prosecute those involved in the murder of people in detention centres and to promulgate the necessary Act in this regard.Responding to 83 habeas corpus petitions, a division bench of Justices Khil Raj Regmi and Kalyan Shrestha had passed the verdict directing to prosecute those guilty for forced disappearance of people.
The apex court had directed to provide Rs 2 lakh to the family of Chakra Bahadur Katuwal who was killed in a detention centre and provide Rs 1 lakh to those whose family members were disappeared after arrest.Secretary of the PMO, Madhav Paudel, however, said that the government is serious to implement the verdict.
“The government has already started the process to provide compensation to the families of the victims soon after the cabinet decision,” he added.“But the implementation of the other parts of the verdict may take more time,” he added.
-Ananta Raj Luitel in himalayn times
Court summons workers in APCA case
Patan Appellate Court has summoned Maoist-affiliated workers' who have announced they will again disrupt distribution of The Himalayan Times (THT) and the Annapurna Post (AP) dailies from Sunday.
A single bench of Justice Buddhi Prasad Regmi yesterday summoned the defendants to appear in court Monday to discuss a stay order petition not to disrupt distribution of the dailies.
The petition was filed by CU Anand, chief operative officer of Asia Pacific Communication Associates (APCA) Nepal. The court has summoned All Nepal Communication and Printing Publication Workers' Association, Anamnagar, its chairman Arjun Prasad Gautam, and its chairman at Sainbu, Lalitpur Khuchindra Thapa.
The bench also ordered them to submit written affidavits justifying their threat to kill those who distribute the dailies and their announcement to disrupt distribution.
APCA COO Anand sought the stay order against the defendants as their activities violated rights guaranteed under Clause 6(6) and 9 of the Citizens Rights Act 2012 BS.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Judge’s demotion case lands in SC again

A controversial case that caused the demotion of a Supreme Court justice, Paramananda Jha, a year ago, has reached the apex court once again.The Kathmandu District Court (KDC) had awarded an eight-year jail termto a drug peddler, Dil Bahadur Gurung. But two years ago, Jha, then a Supreme Court judge, granted bail to Gurung.Gurung has been arrested again and the case, once again, has landed in the apex court.A single bench of justice Balram KC today issued a notice to the Kathmandu District Court and the Narcotic Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit asking them to explain, within five days, the reason behind the arrest of Gurung. The unit had arrested Gurung from Shiphal on Tuesday. Appealing for the release of Gurung, a habeas corpus petition was registered yesterday.The Judicial Council headed by Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel had demoted Jha for “improperly” acquitting Gurung on September 17. Overturning the Kathmandu District Court and Patan Appellate Court orders to jail Gurung, Jha had granted him bail.Police had caught Gurung while he was trying to smuggle 679 kg of marijuana into Holland some three years ago. A three-member panel comprising SC Justices Anup Raj Sharma, Khil Raj Regmi and Ram Prasad Shrestha, which was formed to examine Gurung’s acquittal, concluded that Jha’s decision to acquit Gurung was improper. The panel also recommended the Judicial Council to press Jha for resignation and not to extend his tenure if he does not resign.The Judicial Council had demoted apex court judge Jha, deputing him as the chief judge of the Biratnagar Appellate Court. But the apex court had to call Jha back as lawyers and people of Biratnagar opposed Jha’s posting in the appellate court. The apex court then sent Jha to the Judicial Council’s reserve pool.The habeas corpus petition, claiming that Gurung has the right to remain free until the decision of the Patan Appellate Court, has demanded Gurung’s release. Gurung claimed it was improper to arrest him even after the KDC conviction on the drug peddling case. He also claimed that he still has not moved the Patan Appellate Court with an appeal under Clause 26 of the Government Case Act 1992 challenging the KDC verdict.

Ananta Raj Luitel in himalayan times
No Need of Judicial Review on Poll Act, SC Told

The Parliament Secretariat on Thursday told the Supreme Court not to examine the recently-promulgated Constituent Assembly Member Election Act, 2007. It said there is no need of judicial intervention in the Act's provision to disqualify those indicted by the Rayamajhi Commission from contesting the constituent assembly elections.
"It is the prerogative of the parliament to promulgate the Act and there is no need for the apex court to intervene in the issue," joint secretary at the Parliament Secretariat, Tek Prasad Dhungana, said while submitting an affidavit on Thursday. He said that the Rayamajhi Commission-indicted are disqualified from contesting the constituent assembly elections as they suppressed the Jana Andolan II through the misuse of state powers and treasury.
"Such a disqualification is legitimate because those indicted by the Rayamajhi Commission have violated human rights and misused state treasury. As the government disqualified them as per its constitutional mandate, there is no need for the apex court to review the matter," the affidavit stated. The Parliament Secretariat was responding the SC notices on a writ petition filed by advocate Kamalesh Dwevedi. The writ petitioner has challenged the provision of the Act that bars the Rayamahjhi Commission-indicted from contesting the elections.Dhungana claimed that the provision to bar the Rayamajhi Commission-indicted is in line with Article 65 (C 1) of the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 and Clauses 18 and 19 of the Constituent Assembly Election Act 2007.

Tarai court staffers’ plight: SC panel seeks preventive measures

A panel of judges formed to look into the plight of judges and court officials in the Tarai region has suggested the government adopt preventive measures to protect their lives.The panel set up by the Supreme Court and comprising Ram Prasad Shrestha, Sharada Prasad Pundit and Rajendra Kumar Bhandari submitted its report to Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel today.The report says that the government should provide additional security and a common residence to the judges and the court staffers working in the region.It says the government should tackle political problems in the Tarai through meaningful dialogue and other problems that do not concern politics by taking stringent measures.The panel has further said the government should handle the problems in a “concrete manner” as they are not specific problems of court staffers.According to the report, all civil servants stationed in the Tarai districts such as Rautahat, Siraha, Bara, Parsa, Sarlahi, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Nawalparasi, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali, Kanchanpur and Dang have been facing similar problems.The panel also says that the problems could be solved to some extent by keeping Tarai-born staffers in the Tarai region and those born in the hills in the hilly areas.The report has also accused the media of publishing and broadcasting news items that threaten social harmony. It suggested the government take action against such media houses under the Press and Publication Act 1992.“Such an action is needed in order to bring the situation back to normal,” it says.“The government and the political parties failed to initiate any programme to restore normalcy in the region. Political parties, intellectuals and lawyers should concentrate on launching social programmes to address the various problems plaguing the country,” the panel concludes.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Judiciary corruption scandal: Verdicts weren’t affected, says panel

The Supreme Court judges’ panel, formed to investigate alleged conversations between Rajesh Shakya and SC section officer Baburam Dahal over attempting to influence a case, submitted its report yesterday.The three-member panel has concluded that the conversation between the two had no grounds to influence the court verdict. It, however, suggested the authority take departmental action against corrupt officials and adopt policies and programmes to promote people’s confidence in the judiciary.Assistant Spokesperson of the Supreme Court Hemanta Rawal told journalists that the panel comprising judges Top Bahadur Magar, Damodar Prasad Sharma and Ram Kumar Prasad Shah submitted the report to the Chief Justice.After receiving the report, the CJ asked Registrar Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena to forward it to the next full court meeting for necessary action. “The panel has concluded that the conversation between Dahal and Shakya had no grounds to influence the court verdicts,” Rawal said, citing the report.He added that verdicts issued in the cases were genuine and the conversations had not affected them in any manner.The panel had interrogated 19 persons involved in the case.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Court employees call for indefinite strike nationwide
Nepal Judiciary Employees Concern Committee (NEJECC), umbrella organisation of court employees across the country, called for an indefinite strike from Monday.
Court staff at the Apex court and 10 other courts had brought work to a halt yesterday to protest the transfers and press for transparency in administrative and economic affairs.
All judicial and administrative activities in courts across the country have come to a halt today.
To protest against the ill-intended transfers and corruption during recruiting employees in the computer department, we have called for the strike, said NEJECC president Bhandary.
The employees have been demanding transparency in economic and administrative affairs, action against corrupt and withdrawal of the transfers.
The strike will continue unless our demands are met, informed Bhandary.
The employees’ committee said that it was forced to announce the strike as Timalsena transferred its president Binod Adhikary to Rautahat, General Secretary Nagendra Kalakheti to Siraha and member Jiwan Bhandari to Taplejung.
The NEJECC members were given transfer orders following their demand of transparency in investment and recruitment in Information Technology (IT) at the court.
The Supreme Court officials are currently holding discussions to resolve the problem.
Former SC Justice Mallik dies at 80
Former Supreme Court Justice Janardan Lal Mallik died Sunday night at the age of 80.
Mallik was the chairman of the investigation committee that was formed to probe into the atrocities committed during the 1990 people's movement.
Mallik has been suffering from brain disease for a long time and was undergoing treatment at Bir Hospital in the capital.
Mallik was the first chief commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority.
Mallik is survived by his wife, three sons two daughters.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Parliament passes civil service bill
The parliament Friday passed a bill amending Civil Service Act 1993, thus ending the one-year long legal vacuum in the bureaucracy.
The amended Act has guaranteed time-bound promotion, reservation, and trade union rights, besides making the secretarial appointment process relatively more transparent.
Time-bound promotion, trade union rights and 45 percent reservation for women, Janajatis, Madhesis, Dalits, physically challenged and backward region have been guaranteed in the bureaucracy for the first time.
As per time-bound promotion, non-gazetted government employees in the post of clerk will be promoted to higher level provided they have the required qualification in 10 years. Similarly, non-gazetted first class officials will be upgraded every 12 years, section officers every 15 years, while under-secretaries and joint secretaries will get promoted every 18 years.
Similarly, the provision for reservation says that 45 percent of the total posts in the bureaucracy will be distributed to women (33 percent), Janajati (27 percent), Madhesi (22 percent), Dalit (9 percent), physically challenged (5 percent) and backward region (4 percent).
However, the Act has adopted the principle of positive reservation.
The provision on trade union rights allows government employees up to the post of section officer to join trade unions. Previously, only non-gazetted officers, below the post of section officer were allowed to join unions or organizations. Trade union rights also means the trade union of the government should be registered at the Department of Labor.
The provision of time-bound promotion and trade union rights are still the most controversial provisions. Critics fear that the provision for automatic promotion, one of the major demands of agitating government employees' organizations and unions, will affect meritocracy in the civil service.
Likewise, those who oppose trade union rights say that the provision will lead to politicization of the "permanent government".
Yuv Raj Panday, general administration secretary, said the parliament-endorsed bill has ensured transparency and provided no room for manipulation in the appointment of secretaries. According to him, secretaries will be appointed only in Poush (mid-December to mid-January) and Ashad (mid-June-mid July) every year.
Agitating government employees' organizations said that the Act has not addressed their demands fully. "We had demanded time-bound promotion every ten years for all government employees. Still, whatever we have achieved is satisfactory. It has opened doors to address our demands in future," said Bhawani Thani, President of Nepal Civil Service Employees' Union.
Likewise, Ganesh Basyal, President of Nepal Government Employees Organization said, "Our demands for trade union rights up to the post of undersecretary, equal period for promotion for all government employees and reform in work performance evaluation have not been addressed. We will continue our movement to get the demands addressed."
In the meantime, employees of the parliament have prepared a draft Bill that allows them to switch service and join the same post in the civil service.
Besides, the Bill proposes the retirement age of parliament employees as 60. At present, the retirement age is 58. The parliament decided to send the Bill to the concerned committee for discussion.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Govt publicizes Rayamajhi report
The government on Friday tabled the Rayamajhi Commission report in parliament.
Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula on behalf of the government tabled the report and made it public.
The report is available for the public at the library of the Parliamentary Secretariat, said Speaker Nembang.
Earlier, Speaker Subash Nembang had directed the government to table and publicizes the report at the earliest.
Despite criticism and demands from several quarters, the government had delayed in making the report public.
A meeting of the Council of Ministers held at the Prime Minister’s Office in Singha Durban on Wednesday had taken a decision to table the report in parliament today.
The 1184-page report has recommended action against over 200 people.
Details of the action taken against some of the guilty have also been tabled in parliament today.
The report, however, does not clearly recommend any action against the king.
The commission though had summoned the king to record his statement, the king had snubbed the call.
Out of 297 persons quizzed by the commission, 96 have been given clean chits.
The commission has recommended action against 34 members of the royal cabinet, five zonal administrators and 13 zonal administrators by formulating necessary laws.
The commission has recommended action against former ministers Kamal Thapa, Shrish Sumsher Rana and Tanka Dhakal on corruption and rights abuse charges. Some of the king-led ministers were charged of human rights violations, some on corruption cases and some on both accounts.
Thapa, Rana and Dhakal have been found to have doled out state coffers in millions of rupees to suppress the Jana Andolan II.
The commission has also recommend actions against Nepal Army personnel except the then Chief of Army Staff as per the provision of Army Act, 2016. However, it has asked the government to formulate necessary laws to take action against former army Chief Pyar Jung Thapa.
The commission also has recommended action against Nepal Army Generals Kul Bahadur Khadka, Kiran Shumshre Rana and Dipak Bikram Rana.
Similarly, the commission has also recommended actions against 22 civil servants and 25 army personnel.
It has also recommended action against the then chairman of dissolved Raj Parishad, Parashu Narayan Chaudhary and its members Bharat Keshari Singh and late Sachchit Shumshr Rana. Action has been recommended against the then election commissioner Keshav Raj Rajbhandari.
It has also recommend actions against 70 Nepal Police personnel and 20 Armed Police Force personnel.
The commission suggested that 14 personnel of the Nepal Police and seven of the APF be prosecuted on attempted murder charges.
The commission has recommended departmental action against incumbent Chief of Army Staff Rookmangud Katawal, Chief of Armed Police Force Basudev Oli and former chief of National Investigation Department, Devi Ram Sharma.
Shortly after the commission submitted its report to the government last year, the government had formed a committee headed by the then deputy prime minister KP Sharma Oli to study the report before recommending action against the guilty.
The Rayamajhi Commission -- formed under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court Justice Krishna Jung Rayamajhi to probe into the atrocities committed by the erstwhile royal regime during the April uprising last year – had submitted its report to the government on November 20 last year.
The government had formed the high level commission on May 5 last year.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

SC notice to govt to redeem cops’ honour

The Supreme Court on wednesday issued show cause notices to government authorities on a 20-year-old conviction of two policemen in a case of stolen revolvers.A single bench of Justice Tahir Ali Ansari has given the Centre Region Police Special Court, Government Joint Attorney Rajendra Subedi, Lalitpur Chief District Officer Ananda Raj Pokhrel and Superintendent of Police Madhav Prasad Nepal 15 days to file affidavits in the court.The bench was acting on a writ petition filed by former head constable of Nepal Police, Yagya Bahadur KC, who had to spend seven years in jail and pay a hefty fine though he was not the one to steal the two revolvers from the National Police Academy at Maharajgunj 20 years ago.The Centre Region Police Special Court had also jailed another policeman, Khul Bahadur Kunwar, for four years on the same charge. The matter took an interesting turn in 2003 when, out of the blue, another policeman, Ghanashyam Adhikary, admitted to stealing the guns.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Judges' Panel for Action Against Corrupt

The Supreme Court judges' panel, formed to investigate alleged conversations between Rajesh Shakya and SC section officer Baburam Dahal over attempting to influence a case, submitted its report yesterday.The three-member panel has concluded that the conversation between the two had no grounds to influence the court verdict, but suggested the authority take departmental action against corrupt officials and adopt policies and programmes to promote people's confidence in the judiciary.Assistant Spokesperson of the Supreme Court Hemanta Rawal told journalists that the panel comprising judges Top Bahadur Magar, Damodar Prasad Sharma and Ram Kumar Prasad Shah submitted the report to the Chief Justice.After receiving the report, the CJ asked Registrar Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena to forward it to the next full court meeting for necessary action."The panel has concluded that the conversation between Dahal and Shakya had no grounds to influence the court verdicts," Rawal said, citing the report.He added that verdicts issued in the cases were genuine and the conversations had not affected them in any manner.The panel had interrogated 19 persons involved in the case.
Attempt to murder case against 11

The District Administration Office (DAO) Dolakha has filed attempt to murder case against 11 Maoist cadres involved in attacking Chief District Officer (CDO) Uddhab Bahadur Thapa and vandalizing his office on Sunday.
The authorities also filed public offence cases against 17 Maoists who are in police custody for their alleged involvement in the attack while four others were found innocent and freed after preliminary investigation, said Deputy Superintendent of Police Haribhakta Prajapati.
A Maoist group that reached the DA's office on Sunday to pressure the authorities to revoke a case filed earlier against Maoist leader Bishal Khadka, had assaulted CDO Thapa and vandalized the office.
The Maoists who were accused of attempt to murder are Kiran Dahal, Raju Karki (Prashun), Mohan Thapa, Dhruva Karki, Raj Kumar Basnet, Narayan Thapamagar, Tirtha Lama, Ajay Lama, Tirtha Raj Tamang, Dev Raj Tamang and Dawa Sherpa, according to DSP Prajapati.
However, Shiva Khadka, Bhim Lama, Amrit Lama and Bijay Yonjan were later released, police said.