Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sobhraj fake passport hearing on Feb 13

The Supreme Court will reopen the fake passport possession case against alleged international serial killer Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj on February 13.The apex court has scheduled the hearing for February 13 following the order of a division bench of Justices Anup Raj Sharma and Top Bahadur Magar on December 19.“We expect that the apex court will decide the case soon after its hearing,” Sobhraj’s lawyer Raja Ram Dhakal told .After a long hearing, the bench had decided to reopen the fake passport possession case, which was quashed by the Kathmandu District Court and was upheld by the Patan Appellate Court. The lower courts, however, had convicted Sobhraj of killing American national Connie Jo Bronzich in Nepal in 1975.Stating that Sobhraj’s fake passport possession case is interlinked with the murder case, the apex court had decided to reopen the fake passport case.The prosecutors had filed the case against Sobhraj claiming that he had entered Nepal using fake passport in 1975 and had killed two backpackers Bronzich and Canadian national Laurent Armond Carriere.
Judges to have more power
The Supreme Court (SC) is set to make chief judges of appellate courts more powerful to make administration of justice more effective in appeal courts and the district courts under their respective jurisdiction.
SC Registrar Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena said the amendments are being introduced in the existing Supreme Court and Appellate Court Regulations to incorporate the provisions giving more power to the chief judges.
"We have proposed in the draft regulations that the chief judges can regularly monitor, inspect and instruct the courts under their respective jurisdiction, Dr Timalsena said. "The proposed provisions aim at making the appellate court chief judges active and dynamic in their respective region."
The move has been taken upon the realization that the chief judges have not been as active and dynamic as they should have been. Besides, they have been more dependent on the Supreme Court for any decision to give direction, and for monitoring and inspecting performance of the lower courts under their jurisdiction.
Each appellate court has certain number of district courts under its jurisdiction. There are 16 appellate courts across the country, and the number of district courts under the jurisdiction of a particular appellate court varies. There are 75 district courts.
The regulations will be effective after an endorsement by the Full Court, the apex policy-making body of the judiciary, which is headed by Chief Justice.
In the meantime, efforts are underway to set up an IT section in each appellate court and district court in order to expedite the judiciary's bid to inter-connect all the courts across the country, according to Dr Timalsena.
The judiciary has planned to computerize all the courts across the country within next three years, according to Deepak Timalsena, IT chief of the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

PIL filed at SC on border issue

Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed on Tuesday in the Supreme Court seeking its order to the government authorities to determine the border of the nation so that controversies regarding border encroachment can be resolved .Claiming that Nepal has been losing its land, advocates Ritubarna Baniya and Gopal Bahadur Pokhrel and Kathmandu resident Mohan Bikram Pokhrel filed the PIL jointly. Claiming that 1773 square miles of land was encroached by the Indian side, they sought the court order to the authorities to take the issue seriously.
SC seeks replies on Rs 1m per MP
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Prime Minister, the Speaker and the Parliament Secretariat to furnish written replies within 15 days over the decision to give one million rupees to each member of parliament (MP) under the constituency development program.
Besides, the court also ruled that it would hold discussions on February 5 on whether the decision should be stayed for the time being. The apex court therefore ordered the defendants to be present in court to take part in the discussions.
Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha issued the order following an initial hearing on the writ petition questioning the constitutionality and legality of the government decision. In a controversial move, the government had decided on January 9 to give one million rupees to each lawmaker.
Similarly, the court also ordered the government to produce the files on the decision before the court on February 5 via the Office of the Attorney General.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Law on Sex Crime Victims' Welfare Must: AG

Attorney General Yagya Murti Banjade on Monday said that there is urgent need to promulgate a separate Act to protect the rights of women and children and HIV/AIDS patients.The recent Supreme Court verdict and guidelines to the government, prosecutors and all concerned, to keep secret the identity of victims of sex crimes and of HIV/AIDS patients while dealing with their cases, has the same capacity as a law, but ultimately there should a law to govern this issue, he said.He said this at a discussion on special cases related with women, children and HIV/ AIDS patients and secrecy related to them, organised by Forum For Women, Law and Development on Monday.Banjade also said that all concerned should strictly follow the guidelines.SC Registrar Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena said that the apex court would coordinate with the government authorities to implement the guidelines until a law is promulgated.President of the FWLD Sapana Pradhan Malla said that honouring the SC verdict and its guidelines would help respect the fundamental rights of women children and HIV/ AIDS patients.

NRB guv case verdict rescheduled for Feb 15

The Special Court on monday rescheduled the pronouncement of verdict on the corruption case against Nepal Rastra Bank Governor Bijaya Nath Bhattarai and Executive Director Surendra Man Pradhan for February 15. This is the sixth time the case verdict has been postponed.A three-member bench comprising judges Bhoopdhoj Adhikary, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana postponed the pronouncement of judgment following today’s hearing.Today’s hearing involved discussion on whether a January 9 letter from the KPMG Sri Lanka verified its June 18, 2007 letter.The verdict pronouncement was postponed today for lack of sufficient time to further proceed with the case. The bench also directed the court administration to place the case before the bench on February 15.The KMPG Sri Lanka, in its letter to CIAA investigation officer Ranjan Krishna Aryal, has said its letter dated June 18, 2007 is authentic.“We attached a copy of our letter dated June 18, 2007, addressed to you, duly certified by our lawyers Julius and Creasy confirming that it is a true copy of our letter,” the January 9 letter stated.The NRB lawyers claimed that the document forwarded by the KPMG Sri Lanka does not verify the authenticity of its earlier letter as it came from ‘back door’ because it was not addressed to the court but to the CIAA investigation officer and therefore, it was ill intentioned.The KPMG Sri Lanka had refused to furnish details to the NRB saying it would do so only if the court or the CIAA asked.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sharma to head CA court
The Judicial Council (JC) on Sunday recommended the government to appoint Supreme Court (SC) Justice Anup Raj Sharma as the chairman of the Constituent Assembly Court.
Similarly, JC recommended the name of Supreme Court Justices Tap Bahadur Magar and Ram Kumar Prasad Sah as the members of the court, according to JC Spokesperson Nahakul Subedi.

A meeting of JC headed by Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri took the decision on Sunday after the government requested the JC to recommend the judges for the court. The government told the JC that it is going to announce the inception of the court soon.

The Interim Constitution has provisioned that there will be a separate court to take up cases and crimes relating to the election to the Constituent Assembly.

Similarly, the JC has recommended the government to appoint Subedi, joint secretary at JC, as the registrar of the court.

In the meantime, the JC meeting also decided to allow the Election Commission (EC) to deploy 95 district judges, including 20 additional district judges, as the chief election officers across the country, according to Subedi. Likewise, a meeting of the Judicial Service Commission decided to allow the EC to use 240 officials under the judicial service in the upcoming election.

Friday, January 25, 2008

SC bans transactions in Rajguthi land
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday put an end to transactions in Rajguthi land owned by the government trust known as Guthi Sansthan.
In a ruling to the government, the Supreme Court said such a move was necessary to preserve Rajguthi lands, which are decreasing day by day.
Generally, guthi land cannot be bought or sold. However, Rajguthi land can be bought or sold after it is converted into Raitan Numberi - land on which tax is paid by the tenant to the Guthi Sansthan.
The provisions in the Guthi Sansthan Act 1976 allowing the conversion of Rajguthi land into Raitan Numberi have been ruled null and void by the bench comprising Justices Ram Prasad Shrestha, Bal Ram KC and Damodar Prasad Sharma as these provisions violated people's cultural and religious rights guaranteed by the Interim Constitution.
The bench issued the ruling in response to public interest litigation filed by Pro Public, an NGO. The litigation mentioned that the existing legal provisions had allowed rampant misuse of Rajguthi land and caused massive decrease in such lands.
The court also ordered the government to stop the practice of exchanging private Guthi land with other lands. At present, the practice of exchanging expensive Guthi land with less valuable land is prevalent. Consequently, expensive land owned by private Guthis is decreasing, according to the litigants.
Land owned by private Guthis is being misused in other ways as well. According to the litigation, Guthi land is being sold after creating a bank fund equivalent to the minimum price of the land. The court also ruled this practice illegal on Thursday.
The apex court also ordered the government to implement the recommendations of the Guthi Commission led by senior advocate Basanta Ram Bhandari. The commission had recommended to the government a number of ways to check irregularities in connection with Guthi land but none of them have been implemented yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Case filed against govt

A person on tuesday filed a complaint at the Metropolitan Police Traffic Division (MPTD), Ramshahpath, alleging a division engineer at the Nepal Water Supply Corporation (NWSC) of running away from the scene after hitting his vehicle.
Prajjwal Basnet, owner of the car (Ba 4 Cha 1342), today filed a complaint at the MPTD charging Bishwo Bhakta Kharel, division engineer at the NWSC, for fleeing the scene after hitting his vehicle twice at Ratnapark and Lazimpat yesterday afternoon.
Basnet said he was driving his car at Ratnapark and the government vehicle hit his car from the back. “I got off the car thinking that the driver of the vehicle will also get off. But the vehicle sped away,” he said, adding that he then chased the vehicle.
“I managed to compel the vehicle to stop near Gairidhara. The driver got off the vehicle and threatened me that I could do nothing to him,” he told.
“Instead of trying to settle the issue, Kharel again ran away from the scene after slightly hitting my car, damaging the bumper,” Basnet said. However, Kharel was not available for any comment.
Rajan Bhetwal, inspector at the litigation section of the MPTD, said they have received a complain and the MPTD would now investigate the case.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tainted image: Judiciary needs huge reforms, says bar report

A recent study reflects on the face of the judiciary, that it is no different from the other organs of the state.
The report states that the judiciary is also an institution awaiting an overhaul to keep it above public doubts.
The report outlined the reforms needed in the judiciary as the public have no option other than moving the court for justice even when they do not have faith in the judiciary because of corruption, irregularities and delayed justice.
The study, commissioned by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), states that the judges have been appointed based on nepotism, favouritism and political ideology. To address these shortcomings, the report suggested introducing new policies to save the judiciary’s image.
“There is an urgent need to adopt an examination system for the appointment of the district and appellate court judges and to conduct parliamentary hearing while appointing the ChiefJustice and Justices of the apex court,” states the report.
It also suggested that such parliamentary hearing be conducted by an experts’ committee rather than lawmakers who may not have the expertise to grill judges.
A committee comprising senior advocate Shree Hari Aryal, advocates Kamal Narayan Das, Prakash Osti and Bharat Raj Upreti prepared the report. The bar body is preparing to send the copies of the report to the leadership of the government and the judiciary.
Though the judiciary is not popular with the public, nobody has analysed or studied to uncover the reality. Also, its own activities have been promoting doubts. The court users have also been highlighting the judiciary as a corrupt institution. This image has been deteriorating due to the actions of the politicians, the press and lawyers.
The committee also suggested punishing those involved in corruption, irregularities and any kind of misconduct which has been tarnishing the judiciary’s image.
“The common people will start respecting the judiciary if the suggestions of the report are implemented,” Aryal . “Only a small percentage of people have access to justice and we have analysed the reasons and shown the ways to address them,” he added.
“If the Chief Justice works courageously and honestly, people under him will definitely be afraid of him and not indulge in corruption and irregularities,” Aryal added. “If the CJ is honest and courageous, half the problem will be taken care of,” Aryal said citing the report.
“We also think that if judges are not updated with the recent trends, they cannot grant justice; so, we recommended that the judges be appointed only after they pass fresh exams,” he added.
Aryal also said if the judges are found to be involved in corruption, they should be given double sentences. Considering this fact, the report suggested that the judges’ conduct be monitored regularly.
In order to address the discrimination between the apex court judges and the lower courts judges and the court staffers, the report suggested that they should be given retirement at 60 years of age. Currently, apex court judges retire at 65, appellate court judges at 63 and staffers at 58. “The judges have been enjoying the taxpayers’ money so they should be accountable to the public,” it added. It correctly observed that “judges should be accountable and responsible while providing justice and they should not transfer the responsibility to court staffers if they are involved in wrongdoings”.
Stating there are differences in salaries and facilities enjoyed by the judges and the court staffers, the report suggested that the court staffers’ facilities be increased. It also added that the government appoint the law minister considering his legal background, as he is the ex-officio member of the Constitutional Council and the Judicial Council, which recommends the appointment of the Chief Justice and judges.The committee also suggested adopting reforms in quasi-judicial bodies as they have not been fully abiding by law at present and common people have been suffering their decisions.
It suggested the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Nepal Law Commission has to be more proactive in drafting and amending Acts.
Stating the judiciary wasn’t providing information effectively, the report asked the SC to set up an information desk to disseminate information. The 200-page report suggested that the press report judicial issues in a proper manner and be self-sensitive while reporting judges’ personal characters. -Ananta Raj Luitel/himalayatimes
produce Mukunda Rijal :SC

The Supreme Court on sunday directed the Singhadurbar Metropolitan Police Sector to produce Mukunda Rijal, a resident of Naya Bazaar, who was arrested from the apex court premises and later released without the court order.
A division bench of Justices Bala Ram KC and Top Bahadur Magar directed the police to produce him before the bench saying that it was improper to release him without the order of the bench as he, along with 16 others, had been arrested on contempt charge for chanting slogans against the justices when they were hearing a case against Chamati Land Pooling Project.
The bench also directed the police to submit a written explanation on why Rijal was released without the court’s order.
The police had released him against the personal guarantee of human rights activist Sudip Pyakurel after his arrest on Thursday.
Altogether 30 persons had been arrested from the court premises and 14 had been released shortly after brief interrogation.
The bench, however, questioned about the release of Rijal, who is facing contempt charge through the apex court’s suo moto notice.
In this connection, the bench recorded statements of four persons — Purna Narayan Maharjan, Ram Krishna Dangol, Dev Ratna Dangol and Shree Bhakta Sharma, who denied the charges and sought apology if they had unknowingly committed any mistake and said they had no intention to disrespect the Justices.
The bench is scheduled to hear statements of the other accused on monday.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

SC Directs Nepal Telecom to Attend Hearing on Jan 21

Supreme Court on Friday directed Nepal Telecom to appear before it on Monday to discuss whether a stay order on the share announcement case should be issued.A single bench of Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi issued the order acting on a writ petition filed by advocates Jyoti Baniya and Ram Chandra Simkhada yesterday.They demanded that the telephone customers' deposits be converted to their shares and the remaining shares be then announced publicly. The lawyers filed the PIL after NTC turned down their demand.Advocate Laxman Thapaliya recently filed another petition challenging the share announcement.

Supreme Court initiates formal contempt charge against 16 locals

In its suo moto notice, the Supreme Court initiated contempt of court action against those arrested from the SC premises .
The contempt of court charge was initiated against 16 of the 30 persons held from the SC premises. 14 persons were released after they were found innocent.
Police had held them after they chanted slogans in the court room against the judges hearing a case against Chamati Land Integration Project filed by Naya Bazaar residents. The SC decided to initiate actions after bench assistant Yadav Raj Pokhrel submitted his report.
“We have initiated contempt of court charge against them after discussing it with all the SC Justices and the presidents of the NBA and SC Bar Association this morning,” SC Registrar Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena said. “We have taken this issue strongly as it threatens judicial independence and the rule of law.”
The contempt of court charge was initiated against Ram Krishna Dangol, Dev Ratna Dangol, Shree Bhakta Sharma, Purna Narayan Maharjan, Ashok Raj Koirala and Dinesh Maharjan. The others who are going to face the charge include Tutubhai Maharjan, Ratna Kaji Maharjan, Macha Raja Maharjan, Mukunda Rijal, Mahendra Jung Thapa, Macha Kaji Maharjan, Bishnu Shreshta, Purna Lal Shrestha, Nil Kantha Mali, Ravi Maharjan and Gyanendra Maharjan.
After the bench assistant’s report, the case was formally placed before a single bench of Justice Bala Ram KC against whom the accused chanted slogans yesterday. Justice KC directed the police to produce the accused before the bench to record their statements on why punishment should not be awarded to them on the contempt of court charge.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Writ filed against budget released for MPs’ fund
A writ was filed at the Supreme Court Thursday against the government’s decision to give Rs 1 million to each Member of Parliament under the MPs’ Development Fund saying the decision could influence the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) elections.
Altogether 13 legal practitioners jointly filed the writ at the SC against the decision saying it was taken without formulating necessary laws and basis.
They have demanded that the SC issue an interim verdict to ask the government to withhold the decision.
17 arrested after vandalism in Supreme Court
Police have arrested around one and a half dozen persons after they resorted to vandalism and sloganeering inside the Supreme Court (SC) where a hearing was underway on a land integration project.
People said to be favouring the Chamati land integration project shouted slogans against presiding judges Balram KC and Tapa Bahadur Magar during the hearing process.
According to Supreme Court (SC) spokesperson Ram Krishna Timalsena, the interruptions at the hearing were of 'criminal nature.'
"If someone files petition on contempt of court on this issue, the court will entertain the issue. Otherwise, we will also take notice of this event and take necessary action ourselves," he said.
The vandalism in the court occurred a day after authorities had set in place the special security in court following the concerns over insecurity made by judges a few days ago.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

SC to enforce security plan from Wednesday
The Supreme Court enforced its new security plan from Wednesday with a view to counter growing threats to judges and lawyers inside the court rooms in recent days.
The security plan aims at controlling entrance of people into the court premises and limiting movement of court clients.
According to Hemanta Rawal, co-spokesperson of the Supreme Court, only those concerned with cases would be allowed to enter the premises from now on. And, even their movement would be restricted only to the concerned bench where their case has been listed, he said.
In the past, anyone one who wanted to get into the court premises were allowed in.
From now on, SC judges will be accompanied by their personal security officers (PSO) even during hearings. The judges used to leave their PSO's out of their hearing chambers.
As part of the security plan, even judges, court staffs, lawyers and judges are required to produce court-issued identity cards to enter the apex court. Besides, journalists are required to hold cards to move from one bench to another for reporting.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Constitution has flopped: Legal experts

Legal experts said the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 failed to meet its goal as leaders were not abiding by it.To mark one year of writing of the Interim Constitution today, legal experts blamed the politicians for the failure of the constitution.

They lamented that not a single programme was organised to mark the Constitution Day .“The rulers have no trust in the constitution, leading to its failure,” former Supreme Court Justice and Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee, Laxman Prasad Aryal, said.

According to him, the Constitution was promulgated to arrange for the transitional politics and to hold the CA election.“We saw nothing during its first year, but chaos and deterioration of law and order,” Aryal said while speaking at Reporters’ Club Nepal.

He, however, said if the Seven-Party Alliance succeeded in holding the CA polls on April 10, the constitution will be deemed successful, otherwise not.Aryal added that a republican set-up was established in the country when the king surrendered power in April 2006 after the Jana Andolan-II.

“It is unnecessary to discuss the form and kind of republic,” he added. He said it would be illegal to provide Rs 10 lakh for each lawmaker without promulgating law for the development of their respective constituencies.

Former president of Nepal Bar Association, Shambhu Thapa, said the statute has failed, as the polls were deferred twice.“The SPA could not hold the election to choose their representatives and has been illegally staying in power,” he said.Thapa asked MPs not to draw their salaries if they respected the state treasury. He said the civil society was doing groundwork to file a case against MPs for spending the state funds.

Advocate Bhimarjun Acharya said the constitution has been violated since the first day of its promulgation. The Interim Constitution has failed as the leaders are not honest,” he added.According to him, the first violation of the constitution was when the ministers did not take the oath of office even after the promulgation of the statute and the last violation was when Matrika Prasad Yadav refused to take oath in the official Nepali language
of Nepal 1990”.

Advocate and Maoist MP Khim Lal Devkota said some politicians were still guided by the “Constitution of Kingdom of Nepal 1990”.

SC orders withholding of identity of sex crime victims

The Supreme Court directed the investigators, prosecutors and media to withhold the identity of victims of rape, abortion, sexual harassment, human trafficking or HIV/AIDS while working on such cases.The apex court strictly directed the authorities to maintain secrecy of the victims while investigating, prosecuting, adjudicating justice and their implementation of any verdict and publication of news.A division bench of Justices Khil Raj Regmi and Kalyan Shrestha issued the directives with its full text of judgment responding to a PIL filed by chairperson of Forum for Women Law and Development Sapana Pradhan Malla.The case was decided on December 25 but the apex court released the full text of judgment today and ordered the authorities to implement the directive from January 24 until the government promulgates an Act.The apex court directed the Prime Minister's Office and Cabinet, the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, the House, Ministries of Women, Children and Social Welfare and Health and Population to promulgate an Act in this regard. The court order has stated that a contempt of court charge will be initiated against anyone found not following it.
New code of conduct for judges proposed
In a bid to introduce timely updates in the existing code of conduct for judges, the Judicial Council (JC) has proposed a new set of code of conduct.
The 12-page code of conduct, which was presented before the conference of judges held Monday for discussion, states that it is unethical for judges to seek political influence for appointment, transfer, deputation and other facilities.
This is something new compared to the existing code of conduct, which has been in place since 1998. This provision was proposed amidst perceived fear of political influence in appointment, transfer and deputation of judges in view of the new interim constitution, which has brought the judiciary under the parliament.
Similarly, the proposed code of conduct has addressed a long-time controversy whether judges should meet parties to cases at their residence. According to the proposed provision, it is unethical for judges to welcome the parties at their residence. The controversy erupted after the Post ran a story about a meeting of the then Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel with parties to cases at his official residence in Baluwatar, Kathmandu.
The new code of conduct will be effective after the Full Court, the apex policy-making body of the judiciary, approves it.
In the meantime, a committee headed by Supreme Court Justice Khil Raj Regmi has been assigned to finalize the draft of the new code of conduct.
JC drafted the new code of conduct amidst calls that the existing code of conduct be updated so that it conforms with international standards.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Judges endorse four-point resolution

The two-day conference of justices of the Supreme Court and chief judges of appellate courts ended , endorsing a four-point resolution.
The resolution has stressed coordination between institutions concerned to make the judiciary independent.
The conference also decided to review the Judges' Code of Conduct, 1998, to garner public support for the judiciary. “There is an urgent need to forge coordination between institutions concerned to make the judiciary independent,” the resolution has said.
“Judicial independence is a pre-condition for democracy. We should take initiatives on our own to make the judiciary independent,” number 3(c) of the resolution has stated.Number 3 (a) of the resolution has stated that the judges should work to make the judiciary more competent.
The resolution has urged the judges to work to adjudicate justice as per the wish of the court users. It has also stressed the need to make justice accessible for commoners.
The conference has formed a committee headed by justice of the apex court Khil Raj Regmi to review the judges' code of conduct.
Justice Ram Kumar Prasad Shaha, chief judge of the Patan appellate court Rana Bahadur Bam, judge of the Jumla appellate court Tarka Raj Bhatta, Appellate Court judge Dr Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and judge of the Kathmandu district court Narayan Prasad Dahal are members of the committee, whereas secretary of the Judicial Council Prakash Kumar Dhungana is member-secretary of the committee. The conference concluded that there is a need to work further to realise goals mentioned in the five-year plan of the judiciary. The resolution said there is an urgent need to forge coordination with several institutions in adjudicating justice, adding that judges will work towards this end.
The conference also passed a resolution allowing two district court judges aged under 45 years to get higher education in law every year.
In his concluding remarks, Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri called the judges to follow the to-be-promulgated code of conduct of judges.
Seniormost justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi urged judges to work hard to reform the judiciary.
Justice Anup Raj Sharma said the judiciary is at a crossroads and has been facing difficulties. He, however, called the Nepal Bar Association and the press to evaluate the performance of the judges and criticise them if need be.

Judges get a salary hike

The Interim Parliament today passed the House Regulation giving Parliament the authority to postpone the House session for upto four months. Earlier, the Parliament had the authority to postpone the session for upto two months.It also passed a separate bill amending the Act Relating to Judges Service Condition, Remuneration and Facilities (1996), thereby increasing salary, perks and facilities of the judges.The Interim Parliament has endorsed the salary proposed by the government. The judges have been enjoying extra allowances and facilities for a few months.As per the new provision, Rs 31,800 is monthly salary for CJ, along with allowances. A Supreme Court justice will get Rs 25,800 as monthly salary and allowances, while an appellate court chief judge will get 24,300 and allowances.An appellate court judge will get 22,800 as monthly salary and allowances, whereas a district court judge will get 18,800 as monthly salary and allowances. The judges have been enjoying housing allowance, fuel, telephone, and electricity and newspaper allowances.The House also amended a provision of the Legislature-Parliament Regulation 2064, enabling the House to postpone its session for up to four months.
Dolma’s death sentence appealed
Saudi Arabia based Nepali mission said on Monday that incarcerated Dolma Sherpa who has been slapped with a death sentence for alleged murder has appealed against the verdict in an appellate court of Kuwait.
"She has appealed to the appellate court against the verdict of a lower court," said Prakash Kumar Subedi, deputy chief of mission.
The mission had deputed Lok Bahadur Thapa, first secretary, last week to Kuwait to find out facts about plight of Dolma, who has been languishing in Shamiya central jail of Kuwait.
According to Subedi, Thapa met Dolma, Kuwaiti officials, rights activists, officials at Kuwait based Embassy of the Philippines and lawyers who are following the case.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Judges' Meet Begins With Call to Win Trust of People

A two-day conference of the judges of the Supreme Court and chief judges of appellate courts began here on Sunday. The conference aims to discuss the challenges facing the judiciary, judges' code of conduct and review the strategic plan of the judiciary.In his inaugural address, Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri called on the judges to meet expectations of the people. "The general public is paying serious attention to the judiciary at a time when the institution is likely to undergo a transformation."He said that the judiciary has served the people even during difficult periods.Giri said that the judges only want to establish a system that can deliver justice. "The judiciary has been facing new challenges. The judges should be accountable to the people," he said.The Chief Justice warned the judges to be aware from those who want to tarnish the image of the judiciary.Seniormost justice of the apex court Min Bahadur Rayamajhi said that the responsibility of the judiciary has increased in the transitional period. "The judiciary is facing great challenges. It is also the time for the judiciary to win confidence of the public towards the judiciary," he said.Rayamajhi said judicial independence cannot be protected only by ensuring the same in the Constitution and Acts, he said, adding, "Only clean and ethical judges and their commitment to duty can protect the independence of the judiciary.""Independence of the judiciary never harms the state and the public. In fact, it ensures everybody's welfare and prosperity," Rayamajhi said.Rayamajhi said, "The political sector, civil society, legal circle and the media should think of the result while raising issues of the judiciary". He, however, expressed his commitment to remove "weeds" from the judiciary.Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Narendra Bikram Nembang said the government is ready to help the judiciary maintain its independence. He, however, called the judiciary to win confidence of the public.Attorney-General Yagya Murti Banjade said the Interim Constitution, 2007 has not impinged on the independence of the judiciary.President of the Nepal Bar Association Bishwokanta Mainali called the judges and the lawyers to change their style and to respect the dignity of labour. "There is no way but to obey the parliament and the Constitution."President of the Supreme Court Bar Association Prakash Raut called to rid the judiciary of corruption and irregularities. He called the judges to focus on delivering justice.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Verdict on suspended central bank governor’s case deferred again
For the fifth time in a row, the Special Court on Sunday deferred the verdict on the corruption case filed against the suspended Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) governor Bijay Nath Bhattarai by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of the Authority.
The court put off the verdict, lack of evidence after the central bank failed to furnish proof relating to the authenticity of a letter from Sri Lanka-based consulting firm KPMG in a corruption case against suspended Governor Bhattarai and another NRB official, Surendra Man Pradhan.
The next date for the verdict has been fixed on January 28.
The court has also decided to send a letter to KPMG after the KPMG stated that it would provide the authenticity of its letter to either the court or the CIAA, and not to the central bank.
Division bench of judges Cholendra SJB Rana and Komal Nath Sharma today stated that the court will give the verdict in the case after the KPMG replies to the court’s letter.
The central bank has maintained that as it is the CIAA which obtained the letter from the consulting firm and filed the case against the governor, it should be asked to furnish proof of the authenticity of the letter.
In the letter dated June 18, 2007, the Sri Lanka-based firm had stated that it had not "authorized" its officials S.V. Bhardhoj and A.N Fernando to sign a consulting agreement with the central bank on February 6, 2006.
The CIAA has accused Bhattarai and Surendra Man Pradhan of causing a loss amounting to Rs 24.5 million to the public exchequer by not claiming compensation after terminating the consulting agreement unilaterally.
The judges of the court are divided regarding the need to establish the authenticity of the letter. Tribunal chairman Bhoop Dhoj Adhikari ruled that there was no need to verify the letter for deciding the case while two members of the court - Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana - maintained that the authenticity of the document needed to be verified before handing down the verdict.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

CJ Appoints Two Judges After House Panel Approval

Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri today appointed Tahir Ali Ansari and Rajendra Prasad Koirala as permanent Justices of the Supreme Court.The Chief Justice appointed Ansari and Koirala as the Justices of the apex court as per Article 103(1) of Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 immediately after the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee (PHSC) approves their names.Ansari and Koirala have served as ad hoc judges of the apex court in the last two years and recently the Judicial Council had recommended them for permanent postings.Though the PHSC unanimously approved their names, a few MPs expressed serious dissatisfaction over the judges' poor presentation during the hearing, said the Chairing MP Amod Prasad Upadhayaya.
CJ forms panel to reform judiciary

Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri formed a committee to look into ways to reform the judiciary. It may be noted that yesterday, a study conducted by the Supreme Court Bar Association had recommended massive reforms in the judiciary.“I have formed a committee to look into the issue of reformation of the judiciary,” Chief Justice Giri told reporters after an interaction organised by the SC between judges and lawyers to resolve problems facing the judges and the lawyers. “I will do the needfulto resolve these problems,” Giri said.The committee formed under the coordination of district court judge Narayan Prasad Dahalhas joint registrar of the SC Til Prasad Shreshta, appellate court registrar Jivan Hari Adhikary and KDC registrar Krishna Ram Koirala as members.The Supreme Court Bar Association had said there is an urgent need to reform the judiciary and review the judges’ appointment process.At the programme, president of the Nepal Bar Association Bishwokanta Mainali said a new judiciary should be formed in a new Nepal. “We have to develop a new culture,” he added. Mainali added that judges have to correct mistakes even if prosecutors or investigators are involved in irregularities.Senior advocate Shree Hari Aryal called the Supreme Court and the NBA to devise ways toprovide speedy justice. Aryal, who prepared the report, said reforming the judiciary will be a tough task unless the NBA and the Supreme Court take the matter seriously.Advocate Prakash Osti claimed the judiciary is politicised as clients have been choosing lawyers based on political affiliation. According to him, the clients do not select lawyers who do not have political links.Advocate Balkrishna Neupane called the Supreme Court to decide backlog cases by appointing judges. “People have not been able to get justice because some of the courts do not have sufficient number of judges. On the other hand, there is no work in several courts,” Neupane added.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

NBA report paints damning picture of Nepal judiciary
A report released by a panel constituted by Nepal Bar Association to study ways to improve the image of the judiciary has concluded that corruption is rampant in the sector.
The report of the research committee to enhance popular faith in judiciary released in the capital on Tuesday recommends a several measures to improve the tainted image of the judicial sector and to make the justice delivery system transparent, prompt and accessible and affordable to all.
It has suggested that the judges must be made accountable to discourage corruption and to make justice affordable to the general public.
The Bar Association had set up the committee after a CD revealing bribery in a case at the Supreme Court was flashed out last year.
The study panel has recommended a double penalty to judicial staff involved in graft taking, stating that corruption in the judiciary is more serious than in other sectors.
The panel report suggests that judges must be made mainly responsible for case settlement instead of making the court staff take bulk of the work pressure related to the cases.
The onus should lie mainly on the judges regarding the status of the cases, condition of the evidence collection, and the date to settle the cases, the report suggests.
The report further suggests that the judges should not be allowed to handle financial administration.
Another important suggestion is that the Law Minister must hail from the legal background as he or she is involved in a number of key positions, including the Judicial Council.
The Bar Association panel has also recommended a one-door policy while formulating the laws.
“Let us make Nepal Law Commission resourceful so that it can draft all the laws,” a member of the panel said. “The Law Ministry should not be allowed to prepare the drafts.”
A separate legislation for the implementation of verdicts and expansion of the jurisdiction of the administrative court are the other recommendations of the panel.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

NRB directives to banks: SC refuses to issue stay order

The Supreme Court refused to issue a stay order against directives issued by the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) to banks and other financial institutions.A division bench of justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Gauri Dhakal refused to issue the order against the directives that were passed on December 28. The directives will remain in effect till January 29.The directives, issued to various banks, development banks and finance companies, told the latter not to disburse margin-lending loan by keeping securities or stocks as collateral.Challenging the NRB directives, Thamma Lal Sharma had filed a writ petition in the apex court. After the NRB directives, a group of investors halted stock trading at the Nepal Stock Exchange, Sharma said in the petition, adding that the NRB's action will affect investment in the stock market.Following hearing, the bench said there is no need to stop implementation of the directives. Advocate Harishchandra Subedi pleaded on behalf of the writ petitioner, while advocates Thaneshwor Acharya and Prem Prasad Pandey defended the NRB directives.
SC judges furnish replies at PHSC

Supreme Court judges Rajendra Prasad Koirala and Tahir Ali Ansari on Monday furnished replies at the Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee (PHSC) to clear the way for their appointment as permanent judges. The PHSC said it would give its decision about the hearing on Thursday.The lawmakers had asked the judges about the dilly-dallying in the process of justice dispensation and the accompanying perversions in the judiciary. The duo expressed commitment that they would work to make the judicial sector more professional as per the prevailing democratic values.Both the temporary judges were recommended few days ago for parliamentary hearing. The PHSC had notified the public to file complaint, if there were any against the judges. But the PHSC so far had received only a single complaint against judge Koirala.Ramesh Prasad Paudel had filed the complaint against judge Koirala accusing him of manipulating the verdict against him in a land-related lawsuit. The verdict is against the earlier precedents of the Supreme Court, he claimed in the complaint. Not a single complaint has been lodged against judge Ansari.

Monday, January 07, 2008

JC discussing transfer of judges

The Judicial Council (JC) is discussing the transfer of Special Court judges.The Special Court is in controversy for giving clean chit to politicians and high-ranking officials accused of corruption.“The JC held a meeting today, but it could not come up with a decision on the transfer of the judges,” JC spokesperson Nahakul Subedi said. Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri heads the JC. While assuming office, Chief Justice Giri had promised to review the structure of the Special Court.According to another source, the JC is taking the issue of judges’ transfer seriously. Bhoopdhoj Adhikary, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana have been working as judges of the Special Court. Adhikary has been working there for five years, while Sharma and Rana have been serving the court for two years.“Though the transfer is a regular issue and concerns Appellate and District Court judges as well, the transfer of Special Court judges is on top priority,” the source said.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Adoption process for foreigners to be complete soon: Officials
Responding to the agony of American families as a result of delay in the adoption process, officials of Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare assured that their adoption process would be completed within a few weeks as they are waiting in queue.
The US-based Seattle Times on January 1 reported the agonies of Margaret King and other prospective parents due to delay in the adoption process in the country. King had chosen Ajaya, a 13-month-old orphan from a child home. The newspaper tagged the process a victim of politics.
All foreign adoptions had been in limbo -- including Ajaya's for a few months. But the government was forced to lift the ban following a massive pressure from European countries and United States. Within a few weeks, over 100 children were handed over to foreign foster parents.
According to the newspaper, some of the adopting families from Seattle have moved to Nepal to be near the babies and lobby at the ministry in hope of speeding up the process.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

SC upholds NRB’s authority to regulate banks

The Supreme Court upheld the Nepal Rastra Bank’s regulating authority in banking and financial institutions.
Issuing the verdict in a dispute between NRB and Kumari Bank chairman and its board members, the apex court upheld NRB’s authority.
A division bench of Justices Anup Raj Sharma and Khil Raj Regmi scrapped the writ petition filed by Kumari Bank chairman Nur Pratap Rana and board members Laxman Shrestha and Santosh Kumar Lama. They had challenged the NRB’s authority to regulate their expenditure while opening the bank.Stating that Kumari Bank’s chairman and the members had spent illegally, the NRB directed them to return the amount to Kumari Bank. The trio had challenged NRB direction to return Rs 15 million they spent while opening the bank, as they could not produce bills and vouchers of their expenditure or details of spending.
When NRB directed Kumari Bank’s chairman and members to return the amount, they filed a petition at the apex court. They challenged the NRB’s authority to question and direct them to return the amount that was approved by the general annual meeting of Kumari Bank.“The expenditure was approved by the first annual general meeting of Kumari Bank as per Clause 12 (a) of Banijya Bank Act 2031 and Clause 15 (2) of the Company Act 2031 and NRB’s direction was illegal and nothing but a threat,” the petition stated.NRB had directed the trio to return the amount in cash four years ago after finding expenditure illegal.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Special Court verdict on suspended governor's case deferred again
For the fourth consecutive time, the Special Court Wednesday deferred its verdict on corruption case filed by the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of the Authority (CIAA) against suspended governor of Nepal Rastra Bank Bijya Nath Bhattarai.
The court postponed the verdict for 11 days, stating that one of the members of the bench, was on a leave.
The CIAA had moved the court one year back against central bank governor Bhattarai and senior officer Surendra Man Pradhan, charging them with swindling more than Rs 195 million.
On December 29, the Special Court has ordered the Rastra Bank to furnish proof relating to the authenticity of a letter from Sri Lanka-based consulting firm KPMG in a corruption case against the duo.
The tribunal had issued a similar order on December 14.
NRB replied saying it was unable to verify the authenticity of the document since it had no such correspondence with the firm. However, the court was not satisfied with the reply and has issued the same order today, but with a shorter deadline. It has asked the central bank to respond within three days. The verdict in the case has already been deferred thrice.
The central bank has maintained that as it is the CIAA which obtained the letter from the consulting firm and filed the case against the governor, it should be asked to furnish proof of the authenticity of the letter.
In the letter dated June 18, 2007, the Sri Lanka-based firm had stated that it had not "authorized" its officials S.V. Bhardhoj and A.N Fernando to sign a consulting agreement with the central bank on February 6, 2006.
The CIAA has accused Bhattarai and Surendra Man Pradhan of causing a loss amounting to Rs 24.5 million to the public exchequer by not claiming compensation after terminating the consulting agreement unilaterally.
The judges of the court are divided regarding the need to establish the authenticity of the letter. Tribunal chairman Bhoop Dhoj Adhikari ruled that there was no need to verify the letter for deciding the case while two members of the court - Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana - maintained that the authenticity of the document needed to be verified before handing down the verdict.