Friday, February 29, 2008

Detention proviso in Military Act challenged in SC

A case was filed in the Supreme Court on thrusday against a provision in the Military Act 2007, which allows a commanding officer of the army to keep any army personnel arrested on criminal charge in custody for up to eight days, against the constitutional provision of producing any detainee before a judicial authority within 24 hours of arrest.
Advocates Madhav Kumar Basnet, Lokdhoj Thapa and Binod Phuyal filed a PIL case in the SC challenging Clause 75, sub clauses (2) and (3) of the Military Act, claiming they contradicted with Article 24 (3) of the Constitution.
The sub-clauses of the Military Act allow commanding officer to detain army personnel arrested for criminal offence in detention for up to eight days by producing them before the Chief of Army Staff or Legal Department of the Nepal Army.
The Article 24 (3) of the Constitution states: Every person who is arrested shall be produced before a judicial authority within 24 hours, excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to such authority.
The lawyers claimed that the Military Act violated the fundamental rights of the citizens and sought an apex court order to scrap the provision.
The Office of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet (PMO), Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Defence Ministry have been made defendants in the case.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Sobhraj’s fake passport case reopened

The Supreme Court on wednesday reopened a fake passport possession case against alleged international serial killer Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj.A division bench of justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Kalyan Shrestha reopened the case. The Kathmandu District Court (KDC) had decided to close the case in 2004; the Patan Appellate Court had upheld the KDC decision in 2005.The bench has also been conducting a hearing on an appeal filed by Sobhraj challenging the conviction in a murder of an American national Connie Jo Bronzich in 1975.The KDC had slapped a 20-year jail term on Sobhraj for the murder of Bronzich and the Patan Appellate Court had upheld the KDC verdict. Challenging the lower court verdicts, Sobhraj had moved the apex court in 2005 and claimed that he had not entered Nepal before 2003.During wednesday’s hearing, government attorneys Brajesh Pyakurel and Rewati Tripathi demanded that Sobhraj be sentenced as he had committed a crime by entering Nepal by showing a fake passport. They claimed that Sobhraj had illegally entered Nepal with a fake passport in 1975 and killed American national Bronzich and Canadian national Laurent Armond Carriere.
SC to hear Guv's case on March 11
The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to hold a hearing on the corruption case against Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Bijaya Nath Bhattarai and another NRB official Surendra Man Pradhan, on March 11.
The apex court is going to take up the case after Special Court judges could not pass a unanimous verdict on the case on February 17. All three judges of the court had passed different verdicts on the case. Now, a single bench of the apex court will decide the case.
As ordered by the Special Court on February 17, Governor Bhattarai and Pradhan presented themselves in person before the apex court on Wednesday for a general date. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has accused Bhattarai and Pradhan of causing loss worth Rs 24.5 million to public property by not claiming compensation after terminating a consulting agreement unilaterally with KPMG, a Sri Lanka-based consulting firm.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

SC seeks info on deportation of Pak nationals

The Supreme Court issued show cause notices to the Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range and the Ministry of Home Affairs to explain why two Pakistani nationals, held in 2006 here, were handed over to Indian authorities.Police had arrested Wallid Sajjad and Asif Ali from Jagat Hotel at Jyatha on July 12 for their alleged involvement in serial bomb blasts in Mumbai in 2004. The court notices came in response to a habeas corpus petition filed in the apex court by the Voice for the Human and Prisoners’ Rights on Sunday.CM Farooq, advocate and chairman of VHPR, claimed the duo were not involved in any criminal activities either in Nepal or outside Nepal. Farooq said their attempt to contact Nepali officials to learn about the arrest went in vain.
Govt enforces Essential Services Act
The government can now take stringent action against tanker owners and drivers if the latter refuse to ferry essential goods.
The government on Monday enforced the Essential Services Act (new amendment), which among others, has granted it special authority to intervene with different essential service providers including the private sector to uphold the basic rights of the people, and if deemed necessary, take action against those causing disruption in smooth and regular flow of essential services.
The Act has specified items such as essential goods, telecommunications, drinking water and fuel, among others as essential services.
It has been learnt that the Act was enforced taking into account the problems the government faced in importing and distributing fuel after tanker-owners and drivers foiled the government's efforts to import petroleum products from Birgunj by launching strike and not cooperating with the security authorities. This has caused a massive fuel crisis in most parts of the country.
With the activation of the Act, the government can now take tankers into its control and operate them by hiring drivers of its own after paying compensation to tanker owners
33 parties, 2,191 candidates to contest 240 seats

The Election Commission (EC) informed Tuesday that 2,191 candidates -- 1,698 from 33 major and fringe political parties and 493 independents-- filed their nominations Monday in 240 election constituencies to contest the upcoming Constituent Assembly (CA) poll under the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system.
Among the candidates, 244 are women (including 29 independents).
According to the EC, the three major constituents of the ruling seven-party alliance-- Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and Maoist -- have filed candidacies in all constituencies across the country, whereas People's Front Nepal (PFN) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) have filed candidacies in 187 and 178 constituencies respectively.
Of their respective 240 candidates, both Nepali Congress and UML have fielded 26 women candidates each, whereas the Maoists have fielded 43 women. Similarly, PFN and RPP have fielded 20 and 14 women candidates respectively.
National People's Front has fielded candidacies for 121 constituencies, including 13 women. The CPN-United has fielded 109 candidates including 7 women candidates.
Likewise, Nepal Workers Peasants Party, CPN (Marxist-Leninist) and Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi) led by the Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies have fielded 71, 83 and 27 candidates respectively.
Four fringe political parties-- Nepal Rastriya Loktantrik Dal, Lok Kalyankari Janata Party Nepal, Nepal Dalit Shramik Morcha and Naba Nepal Prajatantrik Dal-- have fielded only one candidate each.
Meanwhile, two districts in the mountainous region with only one constituency each -- Manang and Mustang -- and Sarlahi Constituency No. 6 have just three candidates each, from Nepali Congress, UML and Maoist.
EC to ask parties to correct closed lists
While scrutinizing the closed lists of candidates submitted by 39 major and fringe political
parties for contesting 335 seats under the proportional electoral system, the EC has found that almost all the parties have failed to meet given requirements.
According to a source at the EC, no party in the seven-party alliance and no other party except the Samajbadi Prajatantrik Janata Party Nepal (SPJPN), has made its list inclusive or produced the required documents at the EC while submitting the closed list of candidates on February 20.
However, the SPJPN led by former CPN-UML parliamentarian Prem Bahadur Singh, who deserted the party following the royal coup on February 1, 2005 to form his own party, has met the necessary criteria, while submitting a closed list of 129 candidates.
As per the already published election schedule, the EC is set to inform the political parties to make necessary corrections in their lists from Wednesday and resubmit the lists at the EC by March 5.
Thereafter, the EC will make the lists public and invite all interested people to lodge complaints, if any, against the candidates.
The EC will then carry out necessary exercises related to challenges, scrutiny and deletion of ames from the closed lists and publish the final lists of candidates under the PR system and provide election symbols on March 25.
- Bishnu Budhathoki /ekantipur

Monday, February 25, 2008

Case filed over drug making negligence

Dr. Kiran Jung Kunwar filed a case against Ranbaxy Laboratories Limited and its super-distributor Amarawati International Private Limited Sunday for showing negligence in the manufacturing of Cilanem, a sensitive drug used for multi-drug resistant microbes.Doctors had traced a glass pellet of thumbnail size in a vile containing the drug three months back.The case was filed through Consumers Benefit Protection Forum at the Department of Drug Administration (DDA).The Multinational Pharmaceutical Company, Ranbaxy committed sheer negligence while manufacturing the most important drug Cilanem used for the patients undergoing treatment at the Intensive Care Unite (ICU) and Coronary Care Unit (CCU), Dr. Kunwar told a press conference .Dr. Kunwar has been working at the Om Hospital and Research Centre.
SC withdraws fine on lawyer Khanal
The Supreme Court has decided to withdraw its February 6 decision to fine lawyer Dhananjaya Khanal for bringing a frivolous writ petition. While quashing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Khanal, Justices Balram KC and Gauri Dhakal had pronounced a fine of Rs 5 on Khanal. However, the judges, in the full text of the verdict of the petition prepared on Sunday, ruled otherwise. The judges said in the full text verdict, "Though the bench concluded it would slap the legal cost on the petitioner as a token of punishment, the petitioner be exempted from the fine as he is a lawyer." However, the bench warned the lawyer not to produce frivolous writ petitions in future. The decision to fine the lawyer, the first of its kind in Nepali judiciary, had drawn criticism from the lawyers' community.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Govt, protesters violating human rights, says NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) flayed the government and the agitating groups in Tarai for causing worst human rights situation in 11 Tarai districts. The districts are Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Sarlahi, Mahottari, Dhanusha, Saptari, Siraha, Morang, Sunsari and Banke, where Commission monitored the human rights situation.Releasing a report on its human rights assessment in the Tarai districts, the NHRC said that the life in these districts has become more difficult and same problem has also been created in Kathmandu valley.The rights body said that various criminal groups were active to make the situation more difficult as they are involved in activities like killing, abducting, threatening and bombing the houses of individuals. During the last two months, two people were killed in Tarai.The report also said that such insecurity in Tarai districts pushes public servants to demand transfer to safest area and the local businessmen, educational institutes, industries have been clearly facing trouble and the daily wages labours have also been suffering due to activities of the criminal groups. According to the NHRC, the rights activists and journalists have also been facing threat to carry out their duties.“The contradicting activities of the activists of Seven Party Alliance, human rights activists and professionals created confusion over whether or not the election will be held,” the report said. The people in the Tarai districts have also been facing trouble to get service as the VDC secretaries in several districts have been halting their services since the last few months.The NHRC also called the government to resolve Tarai crisis by holding talks with the political parties and agitating Tarai groups and called not use excessive force on the agitating groups. It has also called the government not to illegally search the houses of individuals and to be sensitive about women, children and aged people.Calling the government and the Maoists to implement the comprehensive peace accord, the NHRC called to implement report on Gaur incident and create a conducive environment in order to provide rights situation in the country. The NHRC suggested the government to provide enough supply of basic needs to ensure the life of the common people. The NHRC also called to declare the schools as zone of peace and the right of the students to get education should not be hindered at any cost. The NHRC called political parties not to press law enforcement agencies while handling cases.
Show cause issued on Upper Karnali deal
The Supreme Court on Friday issued a show cause notice to the government regarding the latter's agreement with India's GMR Energy Ltd on the 300 MW Upper Karnali Hydroelectric Project.
Besides, the Supreme Court said that it would hold a discussion on March 7 on whether the implementation of the agreement should be stayed, as demanded by writ petitioners Gorakh Bahadur B.C of Kalikot and Ram Singh Rawal of Surkhet, while summoning the defendants to be present before it on that day.
B.C. and Rawal moved the court with a Public Interest litigation (PIL), accusing the government of violating Article 156 (1) (2) (D) and (3) of the Interim Constitution while awarding the project to GMR early this year.
They argued that the constitutional provisions require an approval from a two-third majority of the lawmakers in the parliament prior to inking any agreement on natural resources, but the Upper Karnali agreement was signed without meeting the constitutional requirements.
Justice Balram KC passed the order after an initial hearing on Friday.
Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Ministry of Finance, Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Means, Parliamentary Finance Committee and Department of Electricity Development have been made defendants in the case.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Explain why Dr Amit was deported : SC

The Supreme Court issued show cause notices to the government authorities demanding explanation as to why Dr Amit Kumar, leader of the gang allegedly involved in trade in human kidneys, was deported to India without being prosecuted here in Nepali courts.A single bench of Justice Ram Kumar Prasad Shaha issued show cause notices to the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet and the Ministry of Home Affairs demanding written explanation on the issue in 15 days.The court order came as a response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Subodh Man Napit.In his petition, Napit had challenged deportation of the doctor who was arrested from Chitwan on February 7 on the basis of the Red Corner notice issued by the Interpol.The petitioner had demanded the apex court’s order to the authorities to make public the reasons why the government authorities handed him over to the Indian authorities.Police, while arresting him at Chitwan, had seized a large amount of foreign currency from Dr Kumar. Possession of foreign currency is an illegal act and the petitioner claimed that Dr Kumar’s deportation without prosecuting him in Nepal was an illegal act on the part of the government.

SC moved against Upper Karnali project

A writ petition was filed today at the Supreme Court challenging the government’s decision on the Upper Karnali hydro-electricity project claiming that the government signed the contract by violating the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007.Gorakh Bahadur BC, permanent resident of Meyalgudi VDC-9, Kalikot District, and Ram Singh Rawal, permanent resident of Latikoili VDC-8, Surkhet, jointly filed the petition on Monday.The Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet, Ministries of Water Resources, Science and Technology, Environment, and Finance and the parliamentary committee on Natural Resources and Finance, the Electricity Development Department, the Nepal Electricity Authority and the GMR Limited, Hyderabad, India, are the defendants in the case.The petitioners have claimed that the government signed an agreement on the Upper Karnali project, but information regarding the project has not been made public.“The government has been hiding information on the Environmental Impact Assessment of the project,” they said.
CA Court Seeks Funds, Staff

Now that the process for the Constituent Assembly election has formally begun, the newly formed CA court on Wednesday asked the finance ministry to manage staff and funds for its daily operations.Registrar of the CA court Nahakul Subedi on Wednesday made this demand during a meeting with Bidhyadhar Mallik secretary at the finance ministry.Secretary Mallik suggested the court registrar to manage operations in the court in a simple manner and not expect huge funds from the ministry.Subedi said the CA court will be established on the Supreme Court premises and cases will be heard by the bench of the CA court judges, who will also continue to work as the SC justices.The CA Court will begin its function to decide on cases because the process of the CA election has already begun with the political parties on Wednesday filing a closed list of candidates for the proportionate representation election system on Wednesday.The CA Court will look into the disputes regarding CA election and decide about the qualification of the candidates. The CA Court is the final authority to decide on cases relating to the CA.
Disappearance bill on anvil
The government is making preparations to introduce through ordinance an anti-disappearance law and a commission on disappearances, something not desired by national and international human rights organizations.
According to a highly-placed government source, a draft prepared by the Home Ministry after the December 7, 2007 agreement among the seven parties was recently sent to the Ministry of Peace and Reconstruction and the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs for their reactions.
A draft of the ordinance obtained by the Post proposes a five-member commission on enforced disappearances but does not treat the act of disappearance as a crime. This means that the proposed draft ordinance does not fully comply with the June 1, 2007 Supreme Court ruling.
In a landmark verdict then on enforced disappearances, the apex court had issued strictures to the government requiring an act of disappearance to be
treated as a crime under any proposed anti-disappearance law.
"If such a law emphasizes only the investigation and does not treat the act of disappearance as a crime, it is useless," said advocate Govinda Bandi, a member of the Detainee Probe Committee which was formed by the Supreme Court and which had helped the court to pass the June 1 verdict.
This is the fourth time the government has prepared the draft of an anti-disappearance law. Earlier efforts aborted after vehement criticism from both national and international human rights organizations.
The present move also has evoked concern at international human rights organizations like the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), an organization working for justice and human rights.
In a statement issued from Geneva, ICJ urged the government Wednesday not to introduce through ordinance any law relating to a Disappearance Commission or a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"…a Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Disappearances Commission are adopted through regular democratic legislative processes and are not adopted by ordinance," ICJ said in the statement.
Besides, it has suggested the government adopt such legislation following broad-based national consultations and after meeting Nepal's rights obligations.
ICJ further added that introduction of such laws via ordinance violates the Supreme Court's directives and the Interim Parliament's instructions.
The parliament, a couple of months ago, instructed Home Minister Krishna Sitoula to introduce the legislation only after holding extensive consultations.
When asked to comment on the government's latest move to introduce anti-disappearance law, a senior Home Ministry official who preferred anonymity simply said, "We prepared the ordinance as per the agreement of the seven parties."

By Kiran Chapagain/ekantipur

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

ICJ concerned about lack of rule of law here

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) urged the Nepali authorities to address the pressing public security concerns and the many rule of law issues that have arisen after the parallel system of Maoist ‘people’s courts’ stopped functioning.“Lack of clarity in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) as to which mechanisms were to be put in place to ensure the full implementation of the provisions on dissolving parallel judicial systems has been a major obstacle to bring justice to those whose cases were pending before Maoist “people’s courts” or who had been victimised under the Maoist system,” the ICJ press release issued here today said.The ICJ has expressed concern about the lack of mechanism replacing the Maoist-run people’s courts.“More than a year has passed since the CPA directed against any ‘parallel structure’, but no mechanisms or procedures have been put in place to ensure the many cases affected by functioning of the ‘people’s court’,” the statement said.The ICJ has also said that an advisory panel of experts could be constituted to start drawing up guidelines and help restore a sense of rule of law.“Particular attention should be drawn to the restoration of the rule of law in the Tarai region where the police remain largely absent in rural areas and the work of courts is often disrupted due to threats to civil servants, including court officials and public prosecutors,” the ICJ said.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

SC seeks explanation on third statute amendment

The Supreme Court demanded written explanations from the government and the parliament on the third amendment to the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007.
A single bench of justice Sharada Shrestha issued show cause notices to the authorities, responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that was registered in the apex court on February 10. The apex court gave a 15-day deadline to Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, the Parliament and the cabinet to submit written explanations.
The bench issued the order following initial hearing on the PIL. Advocate Achyut Prasad Kharel had registered the PIL questioning the amendment that also prohibits the pro-royalist parties from launch programmes in favour of constitutional monarchy. During monday’s hearing, senior advocate Ganesh Raj Sharma and advocate Balkrishna Neupane demanded that the apex court scrap the amendment.“The Seven-Party Alliance (SPA) violated the rights of the sovereign people and declared the country a republic without taking the mandate of the people,” the PIL stated.
Claiming that the amendment contradicts with Article 141 (2) of the Constitution, Kharel has sought the apex court order to scrap the amendment on Article 159 of the Constitution.
“The SPA government has prevented political parties from launching campaigns in favour of constitutional monarchy, multi-party democracy and human rights. This is against Article 141(2) of the Constitution,” it stated.
The Article reads: “Any law, arrangement or decision, which allows for participation or involvement of a single political party or persons having a single political ideology, philosophy or programme in the elections, political system of the country or conduct of State Affairs shall be considered inconsistent with this Constitution and shall ipso facto be void.”

Saturday, February 16, 2008

NRB case verdict postponed till Sunday
The Special Court failed to issue a verdict saying the judges were still scouring through the documents related to the corruption case against Governor of the Nepal Rastra Bank Bijaya Nath Bhattarai and Executive Director Surendra Man Pradhan.A three-member bench of judges Bhoopdhoj Adhikary, Komal Nath Sharma and Cholendra SJB Rana said the judges were still analysing the case.
This is the sixth time the verdict of the case was postponed without any reason even after gathering all necessary evidences and documents. The bench has told the court authority to produce the case on Sunday.Registrar of the Special Court Lekhnath Paudel, however, expressed ignorance over whether the bench would pronounce its verdict on Sunday.
The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed the corruption case against Bhattarai and Pradhan accusing them of causing a loss of Rs 30 million by terminating the contract signed with the IEF INC. Lloyd Hill Oakton, USA in Association of KPMG, Sri Lanka.

Friday, February 15, 2008

SC not obliged to settle all cases

Making a three-month-old verdict public, the Supreme Court (SC) said today that it is not bound to settle all issues related with the “constitution and law.”Responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Chandra Kanta Gyawali, a single bench of Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri had issued the verdict.The advocate had moved the Supreme Court, demanding its order to the government to conduct a study on restructuring of the state.

“Every issue to be decided by a court of law should have judicially manageable standard,” the text stated.“The court decides a case when there is a guarantee that its verdict will be enforced.”The apex court said the formation of a state-restructuring commission is the sole prerogative of the government and there is no need for the apex court to order the government to set up such a commission.“The formation of such a commission and determination of service condition of members of the commission is a political issue,” the bench maintained.The petitioner had moved the court, stating that though the formation of the commission is a must as per Article 138 of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, the government was yet to initiate a process in this regard.“Involvement of the apex court in every political issue would not help develop a healthy political environment. This would give rise to frustration towards the political system,” the verdict further stated.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Hearing on Sobhraj’s plea delayed

Supreme Court justices today refused to hear an appeal filed by alleged international serialkiller Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj.The appeal was produced in a division bench of justices Kalyan Shrestha and Ram Kumar Prasad Shaha. “The justices said that the case is serious and they are yet to read all documents of the case, which date to 1975,” Sobhraj’s lawyer Raja Ram Dhakal told.The bench was supposed to reopen the fake passport possession case. The Kathmandu District Court and the Patan Appellate Court had quashed the case, citing lack of evidence. The case charged Sobhraj with entering Nepal in 1975 by showing a forged passport.The apex court had decided to reopen the fake passport case against Sobhraj on December 19, saying it is linked with the murder of American national Connie Jo Bronzich and Canadian national Laurent Armond Carriere.“After their assistant read out the text of the case, the justices put off the hearing,” Dhakal said. “The justices said they were not ready to hear the case because they had not read relevant documents,” Dhakal added.Former attorney-general Badri Bahadur Karki, Dhakal and Ram Bandhu Sharma had attended the court to defend Sobhraj. Deputy government attorney Brajesh Pyakurel and advocates Dr Rajit Bhakta Pradhananga and Ambar Khatri were to plead on behalf of the government and the victims.“We are so sad because hearing on the case is being delayed time and time again,” Dhakal said.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CA court judges sworn in

Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri on Monday administered the oath of office and secrecy to newly appointed Constituent Assembly Court justices Anup Raj Sharma, Top Bahadur Magar and Ram Kumar Prasad Shaha.The cabinet on Sunday appointed the three Supreme Court judges to the CA court to look into disputes regarding the CA polls.Justice Sharma is the head of the court.The Constituent Assembly court will begin its works once the formal programme of the election begins, SC spokesperson Til Prasad Shrestha said, adding that the office of the Constituent Assembly court will be set up on the apex court premises.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Decision on Rayamajhi Report Soon: CIAA

Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), currently in its final stage of analysis of evidence and law against those implicated by the Rayamajhi Commission, said on Sunday it would arrive at a decision soon.The CIAA said it was in the final stage of deciding whether or not to take action against them. "We have been analysing the evidence, the report and the law," Acting Chief Commissioner Lalit Bahadur Limbu said.Speaking at a press conference organised on the eve of its establishment day, he said the CIAA would conclude its year-old responsibility by bringing to justice those who misused the state treasury to suppress the Jana Andolan-II.Stating that it had filed appeals in the apex court challenging the Special Court verdicts, Limbu said the CIAA was not satisfied with the clean chits issued by the Special Court. "Some of them were issued based on technical grounds and most of them were quashed because they were filed beyond the statutory limitation," he added.

PLA was filed Challenging Third amendment to Interim Constitution

Challenging the third amendment to the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, which declared the nation a republic, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed at the Supreme Court .Advocate Achyut Prasad Kharel filed the petition questioning the third amendment that prohibits royalist parties from launching programmes in favour of continuation of constitutional monarchy in the country.“The Seven-Party Alliance violated the rights of the sovereign people and declared the country a republic without taking the mandate of the people,” the petitioner added. Stating that the amendment contradicts Article 141 (2) of the Constitution, he urged the apex court to scrap the amendment to Article 159 of the Constitution.Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, interim parliament and the cabinet have been made defendants in the petition.The petitioner claimed that the SPA government had created hindrances to prevent political parties from launching campaigns in favour of constitutional monarchy, multi-party democracy and human rights, which is in violation of Article 141(2).“Any law, arrangement or decision, which allows participation or involvement of only a single political party or persons having a single political ideology, philosophy or programme in the elections, political system of the country or conduct of state affairs shall be considered inconsistent with this Constitution and shall ipso facto be void,” Article 141(2) states.Stating that the constitution allows every political party to launch programmes as per their political ideology, the petitioner urged the apex court to intervene on the issue.
CA court formed
The cabinet, on Sunday, has formed the Constitutional Court to hear disputes and complaints regarding the election.
The cabinet formed the court as per the recommendation by the Judicial Council.
Anup Raj Sharma, a Supreme Court judge will head the court. The court will include two members – Tapa Bahadur Magar and Ram Kumar Prasad Shah – both of whom are judges at the apex court.
Nahakul Subedi, co-registrar at the Council, has been appointed as registrar at the Constitutional Court.
The Constitutional Court has been formed as per the special act passed by the parliament.
Lawyers’ meet adopts 13-point declaration
Some five hundred lawyers, who had gathered here for a three-day national conference that concluded on Sunday, unanimously decided to be active and committed to ensuring that the April 10 election to a Constituent Assembly (CA) is held in an impartial and fearless manner.
Similarly, the conference adopted a 13-point declaration, mandating Nepal Bar Association (NBA) to advocate constitutionalism, judicial independence, fundamental rights, pluralism, and periodic and competitive election after the CA election.
The conference also recommended that the demands of Madhes and Janajatis be resolved through talks, besides mandating NBA to play a role in mediating between the government and agitating groups.
The lawyers also expressed concern over hindrances to enjoyment of press freedom while urging the concerned parties not to interfere with independence of media.
The commitments expressed in the comprehensive peace accord should be respected by all concerned parties, the conference said in its declaration. Similarly, the conference suggested that all agreements between the government and agitating groups should be implemented completely.
Likewise, lawyers also decided to ask armed groups in the tarai to stop violence, terror and extortion.
Speaking at the concluding session of the conference, NBA President Bishwa Kant Mainali said that the April-10 election should not be postponed under the pretext of security. "Elections have been held even in countries worst hit by conflicts," Mainali said.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lawyers meet in Baglung
Around four hundred lawyers from across the country have gathered here for a three-day national conference to discuss agendas that Nepal Bar Association (NBA) would recommend to the Constituent Assembly to be formed after the election on April 10.
Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri inaugurated the conference amidst a program here on Friday. On the occasion, Giri said that the success of the proposed federalism would depend on the structure and power of the judiciary.
"The issue pertaining to the structure and the power of the judiciary under federalism is very sensitive. And the success of the federalism largely depends on the structure and the power of the judiciary," the Chief Justice said while inaugurating the national conference here.
The Chief Justice further said that attention should be given to ensure independence of the judiciary right from the time of drafting a new constitution.
Giri also asked participating lawyers to pass a resolution to make justice inexpensive, accessible and effective.
Fined for filing 'unnecessary' writ petition

Supreme Court (SC) slapped a fine of Rs. 5 on advocate Dhananjaya Khanal saying he filed a writ petition just to gain 'cheap popularity' in the name of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) rather than being serious on the issue and following proper norms of the writ procedures. The court for the first time issued such kind of verdict on the PIL.Issuing the verdict in response to a writ petition demanding information about the treaties signed between Nepal and India, a division bench of justices Balram KC and Gauri Dhakal Wednesday said the bench slapped the fine to mitigate unnecessary litigation which really wastes the court's time rather than being genuine in their nature and gravity, joint registrar of the SC Hemanta Rawal cited the Court's ruling."It will be a moral lesson for the citizens and other activists to raise genuine issue while knocking the door regarding public interest litigation,� Rawal cited the verdict.The petitioner has also failed to point out what kind of treaties and its dates while seeking court order and the norms and conditions to be followed while filing writ petition at the court, the court said. "Such kind of unnecessary litigation, on the one hand wastes the time of the court and its staff and on the other it becomes a cause of delay on the cases of other people who are seeking prompt justice.�

Kidney kingpin may get up to 10 years jail

If prosecuted in a Nepali court, alleged kidney smuggler Dr Amit Kumar, would face charges under Human Body Organ Transplant (Regulation and Prohibition) Act 1998 or Human Trafficking (Control) Act 2007.If convicted under either of these Acts, he may face up to 10-year jail sentence and Rs 2 lakh as fine, in the charge of racketing human bodies.Upendra Kanta Aryal, SSP of Metropolitan Police Circle Kathmandu, said today that Nepal Police has been investigating Kumar’s crime under the Human Body Organ Transplant (Regulation and Prohibition) Act 1998.Criminal lawyers, however, said such a kidney racket kingpin can be prosecuted under 1998 or 2007 Act and Kumar can also be prosecuted in possession of foreign currency in Nepal illegally. “He can be prosecuted under foreign currency possession case too since one cannot possess foreign currency without prior approval from Nepali authorities,” Criminologist Dr Rajit Bhakta Pradhananga said.Upon arrest the police had seized Euro 1,45,00, $18,900 and a draft worth Indian Rs 9,36,000 from the kingpin.Dr Pradhananga also added that Kumar deserves prosecution in Nepal rather than extradition to India.Kathmandu District Government Attorney Surendra Thapa said that he would decide whether or not to prosecute Kumar in Nepal once the police submits its preliminary investigation of this case.

Sobhraj’s lawyer writes to CJ for speedy trial

Suspected international serial killer Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj’s French lawyer, Isabelle Countant Peyre, today wrote to Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri, seeking speedy trial of her client’s case in the Supreme Court.Emphasising on his release, she defended her client as innocent and said that thecase against him is entirely fabricated.“I hereby respectfully ask for justice from the honourable justices of the SC, on behalf of Sobhraj and his family, and request that a just verdict be given for his quick release,” the letter stated. “Given the absence of the slightest material evidence, the first two verdicts, pronounced by the Kathmandu District Court and by the Appellate Court, sentenced him to life imprisonment without calling in a single witness and on the basis of flimsy grounds , she claimed.“My client submitted his appeal two years ago to the SC presided by your honour, hoping that justice would prevail at last and that he be allowed to go back to his family,” the letter stated. “I have, as a protective measure, informed the United Nations Committee for Human Rights of Charles Sobhraj’s situation,” she added.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Shivpuri case: Experts analysing evidence

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is expecting suggestions from the visiting foreign forensic experts on whether to dig up the Shivpuri area for evidence.
The rights body is expected to decide whether to dig up the site after getting preliminary report from the visiting forensic experts on controversial Shivpuri human bodies buried case. The NHRC is expected to get the report within next ten days.
“After their recommendation we will decide what steps to be taken further,” NHRC member Gauri Pradhan told .
Finnish forensic experts Ranta Helena and Saukko Bikko have currently been analysing the testimonies found in the Shivpuri area after their preliminarily examination of the site. They had arrived Kathmandu on Sunday.
According to Pradhan, they are currently busy on technical work with the assistant of domestic experts’ team lead by Dr Harihar Wosti.
The NHRC had invited the forensic experts to investigate the Shivpuri area on suspicion that 49 Maoists’ cadre disappeared from the Maharajgunj-based Bhairav Nath Battalian of the Nepal Army were killed and buried in the area.
While the technical team has authority to decide whether or not to exhume the suspected site, the NHRC would endorse its decision.
“They are free to decide the steps to be taken further in this case. We will only endorse their decision,” Pradhan added.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

CJ stresses on media-judiciary interaction
Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri has said Supreme Court would soon initiate projects to improve the relation between judiciary and media so as the deliver right information about decisions in court to the general people.
Addressing the inaugural session of the legal best reporting training organised by Freedom Forum in the capital Wednesday, Giri said the regular interaction between media and judiciary was essential for promoting human rights and civil liberties in transitional phase.
Former attorney general Badri Bahadur Karki said journalists writing news on legal issues have to be more responsible in disseminating correct information, adding that court reporting in Nepal has been minimal.
Former president of Nepal Bar Association Shambhu Thapa said the journalists must distinguish between legal and judicial aspects of the any verdicts given by the court while writing news.
Senior journalist Harihar Birahi, Gokul Pokhrel, president of Press Chautari Bal Krishna Chapagain, chairman of Freedom Forum Tara Nath Dahal highlighted the importance of court reporting in Nepal and necessity for improving the relation between media and judiciary.
Nepali among three convicted by India court for 1999 IA hijack

A court in India has sentenced three persons, including a Nepali national, to life imprisonment for their involvement in the hijacking of an Indian Airlines plane in 1999, according to Reuters.
A court in the Indian state of Punjab Tuesday jailed Abdul Latif and Dalip Bhujail, both Indian nationals, and Yusuf Nepali, from Nepal, were convicted of criminal conspiracy and murder following an eight-year trial, the agency quoted B.S. Sodhi, their lawyer, as saying.
The court in Patiala said the men, who are known by several aliases, supplied weapons and fake passports to the hijackers.
Five armed men hijacked the Airbus A-300 carrying 189 passengers and crew between Kathmandu and New Delhi on Christmas Eve in 1999. The plane touched down in western India, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates before landing in Kandahar in Afghanistan.
The hijackers killed one passenger early in the week-long stand-off, but the remaining passengers and crew walked free after India released three Kashmir separatist militants from jail.
India said the hijackers were all Pakistani and accused Pakistan's government of complicity in the hijacking, charges it denied. The two neighbours have twice gone to war over who should rule the Himalayan region of Kashmir.
The hijackers fled and have never been caught.
British-born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, one of the freed militants, was later convicted and sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for his role in the murder in 2002 of Daniel Pearl, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
The three men convicted on Tuesday will appeal against the judgement, their lawyer said.
SC gives more power to judges, legalizes IT use
A meeting of the Full Court, the apex policy making body of the judiciary, on Tuesday approved more power to chief judges of the appellate courts besides legalizing correspondence via the Internet for judicial purpose.
The meeting took the decision to this effect by amending the existing Supreme Court and Appellate Court Regulations, according to Supreme Court Spokesperson Til Prasad Shrestha.
The meeting decided to give more power to the chief judges of the appellate courts so as to make the administration of justice more effective in the district courts under their respective jurisdiction.
Now the chief judges can regularly monitor, inspect and instruct the district courts under their respective jurisdiction, making the chief judges active and dynamic in their respective regions.
The amendments were introduced in view of the fact that the chief judges have been more dependent on the Supreme Court even for giving direction and monitoring and inspecting performance of the lower courts under their jurisdiction.
In the meantime, the Full Court also decided to include provisions in the Regulations, legalizing correspondence via the Internet for judicial purpose. Earlier, only correspondence via fax and post offices were considered authentic for judicial purpose.
Similarly, the Full Court also decided to give power to Chief Justice to designate judges for the proposed six commercial benches. Preparations are underway to establish commercial benches, Shrestha said.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Lawsuit seeks trial of Maina’s killers in civilian court

A lawsuit was filed through the government attorney’s office at the Kavre district court today, stating that 15-year-old Maina Sunuwar of Kharelthok VDC-6 was murdered after torture at the Panchkhal-based peace mission training centre. The lawsuit has demanded that those accused be tried in a civilian court.A ninth-grader at local Bhagwati secondary school, Maina was held by the then Royal Nepal Army and murdered on February 14, 2004. The “Court of Enquiry Board” formed by the military court had also concluded that Maina was murdered in spite of the existence of the “alternative ways of enquiry”.Maina was allegedly electrocuted and her body was buried on the premises of the peace mission training centre. The then colonel Bobby Khatri of Kathmandu Municipality-33 Gyaneshwor, the then captain Sunil Prasad Adhikari of Kathmandu-3 Bansbari, the then captain Amit Pun of Rupandehi Anandaban VDC-3 and the then major Niranjan Basnet of Dolakha district Makaibari VDC-9 are defendants in the case filed under section 18 of the Act related to Government Court Case 2049.

Friday, February 01, 2008

SC scraps PILs on border issue

Scrapping two separate Public Interest Litigations, the Supreme Court on thrusday said it could not examine the country’s border related issue.
“This is a matter to be settled by the governments because it concerns the Nepali and the Indian governments,” said a single bench of Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha.
“The apex court cannot settle such a case by examining evidences,” Justice Shrestha said.“The apex court only looks into cases of violation of constitutional and legal rights,” he added.
Advocates Ritubarna Baniya, Gopal Bahadur Pokhrel and Kathmandu resident Mohan Bikram Pokhrel had filed a PIL while another resident of Kathmandu, Bijendra Lal Joshi, had filed another PIL.
The petitioners had sought the apex court order to the government authorities to determine the country’s border and end any border-related controversy.
They had sought the apex court order to the Parliament Secretariat, the Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet, the Ministry of Land Reform and Management, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Land Reform Department, the District Administration Office-Nawalparasi, the Land Reform Office-Nawalparasi and Survey Office-Nawalparasi.
Judge Shrestha, however, called the journalists to press the government and the parliament in this regard.

SC no to stay on loan default cases

In its order to curtail financial irregularities in the banking sector, the Supreme Court has upheld the authority of the banking institutions to take strong action against the bank loan defaulters.Revealing its full text judgment of May 4 verdict, a division bench of Justices Bala Ram KC and Tahir Ali Ansari also curtailed the authority of appellate courts to issue stay order in favour of bank defaulters. The bench told the lower courts to keep in mind the loss to the banks while settling such cases.The text of judgment was issued while acting on a writ petition filed by Chairman of Fulbari Resort Pyush Bahadur Amatya against the Nepal Rastra Bank, the Nepal Bank Limited and the consortium banks. Amatya Group invested over Rs 600 million 13 years ago in the Fulbari Resort and moved the apex court when the NRB and the consortium banks initiated action against them. The bench also told the Amatya Group to pay back Rs 1.86 billion to the consortium banks.The Rastriya Banijya Bank, which was the lead bank of the consortium, had recommended the Credit Information Bureau (CIB) to blacklist the Amatya Group following several calls to the group to clear the loan in 2004 as per Clause 88 of the Nepal Rastra Bank Act 2058. However, challenging the CIB’s decision to blacklist it, the group moved apex court.The bench observed that issuance of a stay order in favour of bank defaulters made the apex court more sensitive.“The Appellate Court issued stay orders without analysing balance of convenience and without caring for the loss to the affected party,” the text stated.Stating that issuance of a stay order encourages the defaulters not to pay back the loans, the bench told the court of appeals to be sensitive while issuing stay order.

Ananta Raj Luitel/ himalayatimes