Thursday, March 20, 2008

SC Tells Govt to Regulate Medicine Market

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a directive order to government authorities to reform the health sector by regulating prices of medical supplies.A division bench of justices Bala Ram KC and Top Bahadur Magar issued the order in response to a PIL filed in the apex court, seeking its intervention to regulate the prices of medicines.The bench told the authorities to form a panel and adopt a proper policy on pricing of pharmaceutical products. The bench asked the government to form the panel under the coordination of a senior official of the Nepal Medical Council and include representatives of the Ministry of Health and Pharmaceutical Management Department in teh panel.The bench told the authorities to complete the study within six months and submit a copy of the report to the apex court.The PIL was filed by advocate Jyoti Baniya. Baniya has also sought the apex court order to publish the prices of lifesaving drugs in the Nepal Gazette. Baniya claimed there was no regulation regarding the supply, quality and prices of drugs.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

SC Penalises NRB Guv, ED on Corruption Charges

The Supreme Court today penalised two top officials of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) -- governor Bijaya Nath Bhattarai and executive director Surendra Man Pradhan in a corruption case.Issuing a verdict in a corruption case filed against Bhattari and Pradhan, a single bench justice Tahir Ali Ansari said: "SC found that the duo embezzled 51,732 US Dollars by terminating a contract signed with a joint venture of Lloyd Hill Oakton, USA, in association with KPMG, Sri Lanka". The apex court has asked them to pay a fine equal to the amount embezzled.On June 29, 2007, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed the case against Bhattaai and Pradhan claiming that they had caused a loss of Rs 30 million by terminating the contract. The contract was signed on February 6, 2006.The Special Court had transferred the case to the apex court on February 17 after the Special Court judges could not decide the case.
not to intervene in NSP case :EC urges SC
The Election Commission (EC) on Monday told the Supreme Court that the closed list of the Anandi Devi-led Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandi Devi) was rejected because a closed list was already registered in the EC with the same name.
“All the election-related programmes have been stopped after the submission of the names and lists of parties,” a written explanation submitted by secretary of the EC Sushil Janga Bahadur Rana stated.The Election Commission was responding to a show cause notice issued by the SC in response to a writ petition filed by treasurer of the NSP (Anandi Devi) Tej Kanta Jha. Claiming that the NSP led by Anandi Devi is the official NSP (Anandi Devi), the petitioner had moved the apex court demanding that the Shyam Sundar Gupta-led NSP not be recognised as the authentic NSP (Anandi Devi).
The EC urged the apex court not to intervene in the issue because the closed list submitted by the Anandi Devi led-NSP was rejected in accordance with the election law. Jha had registered the petition demanding the apex court’s direction to the EC, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Cabinet.
Claiming that the PMO was made the defendant in Jha’s writ petition without anyreason, the PMO, submitting a separate explanation to the court, also demanded that the petition be scrapped.

Monday, March 17, 2008

SC begins hearing on NRB gov case

The Supreme Court on sunday started hearing on a corruption case against suspended officials of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) — governor Bijaya Nath Bhattarai and executive director Surendra Man Pradhan.A single bench of justice Tahir Ali Ansari is hearing the case.Pleading on behalf of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), joint government attorney Saroj Raj Gautam demanded that the bench uphold Special Court Judge Cholendra SJB Rana’s judgement to sentence Bhattarai and Shrestha “because there was evidence to prove that the two were involved in corruption”.The case was transferred to the apex court after the Special Court judges failed to issue a verdict due to differences of opinion. Gautam claimed that Bhattarai and Pradhan had signed a fake contract and had caused the nation a loss of Rs 30 million by terminating the contract signed with the IEF Inc Lloyd Hill Oakton, USA in association with KPMG, Sri Lanka.Stating that the two NRB officials had caused the nation a loss of Rs 30 million by signing and terminating the fake contract, the CIAA had filed a case against the two on June 29, 2007. The bench also directed joint government attorney Mohan Bahadur Karki, who will plead on behalf of the CIAA tomorrow, to explain why the Special Court transferred the case to the apex court and whether or not a single bench of the apex court can decide the case.
SC puts off case hearing

The Supreme Court on Sunday postponed the hearing on the murder case against alleged international serial killer Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj.SC spokesperson Til Prasad Shrestha said the hearing was postponed as Judge Kalyan Shrestha, who was hearing the case, has left for Italy. Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Kalyan Shrestha have also been hearing the case. Sobhraj has to serve 20 years in jail as per Kathmandu District Court order, which was upheld by Patan Appellate Court.

SC warns CDO of action on contempt case

The Supreme Court has issued a warning to Chief District Officer of Kathmandu Jay Mukunda Dev Khanal to face a contempt of court charge for “disobeying” the order of the Chief Justice.
A division bench of Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Rajendra Prasad Koirala issued the warning, stating that Khanal had not furnished details of the illegal detention of two persons despite the Chief Justice’s order.
The bench sought explanations from Khanal on why he should not be punished as per Clause 7 of the Judicial Administration Act, 1991 for disobeying the order. The bench was responding to a habeas corpus petition filed by advocate Dinesh Prasad Sharma. The petitioner had sought the release of detainees Rajendra Sherchan and Iman Bahadur Gharti. “The rights against illegal arrest and detention are recognised as constitutionally-guaranteed human rights.
Everybody should cooperate with the apex court to safeguard the rights. But the CDO did not even furnish information on the detention,” the bench observed.On February 28, a single bench of Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri had ordered the CDO to furnish explanations on why Sherchan and Gharti were rearrested within three days. They were convicted by the Kathmandu District Court and sentenced for four years for committing dacoity. But they were released on Democracy Day on February 19.
While releasing them, the bench told Kathmandu CDO Khanal to present himself before the apex court within three days with reasons in writing on why he should not be punished.
On Friday, the bench had also told police to release Sherchan and Gharti, saying that the two were detained illegally.
Submitting separate explanations, Kathmandu District Attorney Surendra Thapa and Metropolitan Police Range’s Superintendent of Police Sarvendra Khanal had told the apex court that the detainees were taken into custody again for further investigation into a separate case on the possession of arms and ammunition.
Kathmandu CDO Khanal told that the details of the detention of Sherchan and Gharti were not furnished to the apex court because police had sought his permission to detain them. “I did not get the order of the apex court due to technical reason,” he claimed. “Police sought my permission to detain the two and I gave them a go-ahead,” CDO Khanal told . “However, I will obey the apex court order,” he added. Ananta Raj Luitel /HNS
Judiciary not independent: SC
The Supreme Court, while identifying its problems, has said the judiciary has not been independent, competent and effective at par with international
"The judiciary has not been as independent, competent and effective as it should be as per the principle of separation of power and universally accepted values," the Supreme Court stated in its annual report made public on Sunday.
It further said the judiciary has been facing serious challenges in establishing a justice system as envisioned in the constitution.
The court, however, has not stated the reasons that have made the judiciary such a weak institution. But, it may be recalled that the judiciary has long been complaining against constitutional provisions requiring judges to face parliament before appointment and requiring the judiciary to present its report to the Prime Minister, who is head of the executive. Judges have maintained that the provisions have undermined the very principle of judicial independence.
Besides, the apex court has also complained that the judiciary has not featured in the national plan of the country with priority.
According to the report, there are 52,098 backlogs in all courts across the country. In the Supreme Court alone, there are 13,476 pending cases whereas the figure at the district courts is 30,819. Similarly, the backlogs at the appellate courts is 7,803.
Man convicted for attempt on CJ’s life
Kathmandu District Court on Sunday convicted one Prabhat Kumar Gupta of Birgunj on the charge of attempting to murder Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri.
Judge Shiva Narayan Yadav announced five years imprisonment for Gupta who "attacked" Giri with a knife at the latter's residence at Ghattekulo on November 30, 2006. Giri, the senior most Justice then, survived the attack but sustained an injury on the thumb of his right hand.
But Gupta, in a statement to the parliament last September, had maintained that he entered the premises of Giri's house to bribe him in a land related case. He further argued that Giri sustained injuries in a skirmish that followed after the former tried to record the conversation between him and Giri.
It may be recalled that the controversial Gupta case had featured prominently when Giri faced the parliamentary confirmation hearing for being nominated as Chief Justice in September last year. Parliamentarians had then questioned during the hearing whether Gupta would get justice after he became the Chief Justice. Giri had evaded the question saying that he would not comment on the case since it was being considered in the district court.
Gupta had staged fast-on-to-death, protesting Giri's nomination as Chief Justice and demanded that parliament disapprove his nomination.
Gupta's lawyer Kedar Karki questioned the impartiality of the verdict today while announcing he would appeal against the verdict at the appellate court.

Friday, March 14, 2008

SC Clears Path for Upper Karnali Project

Refusing to issue a stay order in the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project case, the Supreme Court on Thursday permitted the government to go ahead with the implementation of the understanding reached with Hyderabad-based GMR Energy Limited on the 300-MW power project.A division bench of Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri and Justice Ram Kumar Prasad Shah refused to issue a stay order, and said the constitutional and legal questions raised by the petitioners will be settled by the court while delivering a final verdict on the case."The question whether the understanding needed a parliamentary approval or not will be decided while delivering the final verdict," the bench stated.The bench said: "Though the water flowing in a river is a natural resource, further discussion is required to decide on whether electricity generated from it is a natural resource or not, and whether an MoU signed with any national, international or joint venture company is a treaty or not."Advocates Bal Krishna Neupane, Borna Bahadur Karki, Tika Ram Bhattarai, Bhimarjun Acharya and Kamal Nayan Panta pleaded on behalf of the petitioners while Attorney General Yagya Murti Banjade and Deputy Attorney General Narendra Prasad Pathak defended the government.Advocates Bharat Raj Upreti, Sushil Kumar Pant, Anil Kumar Sinha and Amarjivi Ghimire pleaded on behalf of the GMR Energy Limited.Gorakha Bahadur BC of Kalikot and Ram Singh Rawal of Surkhet had jointly challenged the understanding reached between the government and the GMR Energy Limited to generate 300-MW hydropower from the Karnali River.The counsels of the petitioners claimed that the signing of the agreement between the government and the GMR limited was unconstitutional. They also claimed that it was treaty related to sharing of a natural resource, and that the government violated the constitution by not seeking a parliamentary approval for it. The constitution says any treaty related to sharing of natural resources must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the parliament.The government however claimed that the MoU was not related to sharing of natural resources and it did not need a parliamentary approval.
Judicial code of conduct of int’l standard ready

Judges of the country are, for the first time, getting a code of conduct of international standard amidst realization that the existing code is obsolete.
The nine-page code of conduct obtained by the Post has eight main heads detailing what judges should and should not do to uphold judicial independence, impartiality and people's faith in the judiciary.
It says that judges should not come into "inappropriate" contact with members of the executive and legislature.
A seven-member committee led by Justice Khil Raj Regmi finalized the code of conduct last Friday and handed it over to Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri. Giri is currently studying the code before presenting it to the Full Court, the apex policy making body of the judiciary, for its endorsement. The Full Court is expected to convene next week. The committee prepared the code of conduct upon realization that the existing code of 1998 did not meet international standards.
The code of conduct further says that judges should be impartial not only while passing verdicts but also in the whole judicial process prior to the verdict. It demands that judges be committed to judicial work.
"A judge should not let lawyers run their offices at his residence or meet parties to subjudice cases at his residence," the code of conduct states.
The existing Code of Conduct for Judges1998 is silent in this regard though the international code of conduct for judges clearly prohibits judges from meeting with parties to cases at their residences.
This issue became a matter of national debate last July when the Post ran a story of former Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel meeting parties to cases at his official residence at Baluwatar, Kathmandu.
The code of conduct has been prepared on the basis of The Bangalore Draft of Judicial Conduct 2001 and its amendment in 2006 by the Economic and Social Council.
Besides Judge Regmi, justices Ram Kumar Prasad Sha, Rana Bahadur Bam, Dr Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, Narayan Dahal and Judicial Council Secretary Prakash Kumar Dhungana were involved in preparing the code of conduct.

KiranChapagain /ekantipur

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Apex court summons Deshantar editor

The Supreme Court summoned editor and publisher of Deshantar weekly to attend in person or to submit written arguments in three days to defend a charge of contempt of court.A single bench of Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi issued the notice in a contempt of court case filed against editor Kabir Rana, chairman of the Deshantar publication Bandhu Thapa and its unnamed reporter.The bench issued the order in response to a case filed by advocate Tek Bahadur Rawal against them in relation with a news report published in its latest edition on Sunday.“Attend in person to record statements regarding the charge or send written arguments within three days,” the bench told the defendants.The case filed by advocate Rawal has accused the paper of carrying a news with a headline Bhattarai’s new campaign to influence the Supreme Court, which deals with a sub-judice case related with alleged corruption by Bijaya Nath Bhattarai, Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank and the NRB executive director Surendra Man Pradhan. Publication of the news is contemptuous, advocate Rawal has claimed.The bench has also told the editor to produce the unnamed reporter of the news.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SC puts off suspended NRB governor’s case submission
The submission of the cases filed against suspended Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) governor Bijay Nath Bhattarai and the Bank director Surendra Man Pradhan at the Supreme Court (SC) has been postponed.
The SC on Tuesday adjourned the process notifying the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to present the cases after one week.
Stating the cases were filed without informing the CIAA, a bench of SC judge Ram Prasad Shrestha took the decision on this regard today.
The corruption case against the duo had landed at the SC on February 27 after the Special Court judges remained divided over the much-awaited verdict on the case.
Governor Bhattarai and central bank officer Pradhan have been facing a corruption case filed by CIAA, the constitutional anti-graft body.
The CIAA had moved the court on June 29, accusing them of causing loss worth Rs 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.
File murder case against Agni Sapkota : SC
In the first order of its kind, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered the District Police Office and District Administration Office in Kavre to file a murder case against Maoist central leader Agni Sapkota and five Maoist cadres.
Justice Ram Prasad Shrestha and Damodar Prasad Sharma passed the order
following a hearing at the Supreme Court on the writ petition filed by one Purni Maya Lama.
Lama has accused Sapkota and Maoist cadres Yadav Poudel, Bhola Aryal, Karnakhar Gautam, Surya Man Donga and Norbu Moktan of murdering her husband Arjun Bahadur Lama in April 2005 when the CPN-M was fighting government forces.
Lama moved the Supreme Court after the police and administration offices in Kavre refused to register her application seeking action against the Maoists under the Murder Section of the Country Code. The authorities had maintained that the issue would fall under the jurisdiction of the to-be-formed Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"Her application be registered as the plaintiff has categorically mentioned the names of the accused," the Justices ruled.
The order means that the accused must be arrested for investigation and murder cases filed against them at the district court, said Govinda Bandi, one of Lama's lawyers. This is the first time the court has ordered authorities to file murder case against any Maoist leader over a crime allegedly committed during the 10-year old Maoist conflict.
Earlier this year, the court had issued a similar kind of order in a crime related to the conflict to authorities of the district. Then, the court had order authorities to file a murder case against army officer Bobby Khatri, among others, on the charge of murdering Maina Sunwar, a 15-year old girl. However, authorities are yet to act on the apex court order.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

CIAA grills RCCC functionaries
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Sunday interrogated two former officials of the Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC), a quasi-legal agency operating during the royal regime, over allegations of harassing pro-democracy leaders and misusing government resources.
Former RCCC chairman Bhakta Bahadur Koirala and member Shambhu Khanal appeared before a panel of CIAA commissioners and recorded their statement regarding the allegations.
The anti-corruption agency summoned them on the basis of the report of a panel investigating the RCCC excesses.
The CIAA is learnt to have written letters to other RCCC members summoning for interrogation.
The government has authorised the CIAA to investigate the activities of the RCCC as well as the corruption during King Gyanendra's direct rule
Special provision needed for gender equality: NHRC
National Human Rights Commission Chairman Kedar Nath Upadhyay Sunday underscored the need for a special provision especially for women from the state citing that gender equality cannot be ensured through legal frameworks alone.
Speaking at an interaction programme organised for International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8, Upadhyay said that the problems faced by women have remained limited to slogans since the state has failed to implement its commitments to ensure gender equality and women’s upliftment.
Upadhyay said, “A special provision for women should be made.”
National Women Commission Chairman Nain Kala Thapa said all discrimination against women was the result of a conservative state mechanism and gender-labour classification.
She added that the state’s foremost priority should be expanding women’s reach to the state mechanisms.
Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights in Nepal (OHCHR- Nepal) representative Richard Bennet stressed that the political will is the major factor to bring women to the mainstream.
Other speakers in the programme accused the government and political parties for not ensuring 33 percent seats for women candidates in the Constituent Assembly, not releasing a budget aimed at them and for the lack of any special programmes for rural and backward women belonging to the Dalit, Madhesi and other groups.

Friday, March 07, 2008

SC seeks govt’s stance on Kumari tradition

A three-member panel formed by the Supreme Court last year submitted its report onthe Kumari tradition in the Kathmandu valley last week but a member of the study team yesterday questioned the report’s credibility.The court then sought an explanation from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) and joint-secretary of the ministry and the coordinator of the three-member study team, Jal Krishna Shrestha, over the issue.The bench has directed the ministry and the study team to clarify over the row and also forward their actual position on the Kumari tradition.The apex court order came in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed on May 6, 2005 by advocate Pun Devi Maharjan seeking the apex court order to the government authorities to protect rights of the Kumaris, who are considered ‘Living Goddesses’.Advocate Pun Devi Maharjan, a member of the study team, said the team coordinator Jal Krishna did not consult the other two members while preparing the report and that she did not subscribe to the document. Culture expert Dr Chunda Bajracharya was the third member of the study team. Maharjan, who has lodged a complaint against the report, yesterday told the division bench of justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Anup Raj Sharma that she did not approve of the report.“Myself and Dr Bajracharya were assigned to conduct studies on our respective fields of law and culture related with the tradition of Kumari but the coordinator Jal Krishna submitted a report before we finished our tasks”, Maharjan told the court.The report has suggested the government promulgate a cultural procedure on the Kumari tradition, ensure more facilities for the Kumaris and to spread awareness about the tradition.Petitioner advocate Maharjan had, in her petition, claimed that Kumari tradition violated the rights of minor girls who are appointed as Kumaris.Kumaris are not given sufficient food, proper education, health service and family environment, the petitioner had claimed while calling the apex court to issue order to the government to properly rehabilitate Kumaris in the society. The petitioner had claimed that there are 11 minor girls serving as Kumaris in several temples in the Kathmandu valley.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

CIAA decides to summon RCCC members

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has decided to summon five members of the dissolved Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) for interrogation over charges of corruption while they were in office.

A meeting of the CIAA, the constitutional anti-graft body, on Monday decided to interrogate RCCC chairman Bhakta Bahadur Koirala and members Hari Babu Chaudhari, Shambhu Prasad Khanal, Prem Bahadur Khati and Raghu Chandra Bahadur Singh, a highly-placed CIAA source told .

"We are sending letters summoning them shortly," the source further said, "Our investigators have already prepared questionnaires for them."

King Gyanendra had formed the RCCC through an ordinance after he seized power on February 1, 2005 ostensibly to deal with matters relating to corruption. The body was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court on February 13, 2006, amidst vehement opposition to its formation both at national and international levels. RCCC had arrested scores of politicians, including former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, government officials and even private individuals, in the name of containing corruption.

The CIAA took its decision as recommended by a judicial commission led by former judge Madhav Ojha. The commission had recommended government action against RCCC officials for abusing power.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

PM asks SC to drop one million per MP case
Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala has asked the Supreme Court in writing to drop the case relating to the one million rupees given to each parliamentarians under the Election Constituency Development Fund. Replying to a show cause notice issued by the Supreme Court on Monday, Koirala argued that the court should no longer consider the writ petition questioning the one million rupees for lawmakers as the government has already revoked its previous decision to give the money. Currently there are two writ petitions in the apex court against the government decision on giving the money to lawmakers.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Govt’s explanation on Military Act

The Supreme Court on sunday demanded written explanation from the government authorities on why a provision of the Military Act 2007 was promulgated in contradiction with the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007.A single bench of Justice Kalyan Shrestha issued show cause notice to the authorities, including the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Cabinet, the Ministries of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and the Defence, following an initial hearing today.The bench order came in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by advocates Madhav Kumar Basnet, Lokdhoj Thapa and Binod Phuyal challenging a provision of the Military Act, 2007.The petitioners have claimed that Clause 75 of the Military Act contradicts with Article 24 (3) of the Interim Constitution.The lawyers sought the apex court’s order to scrap Clause 75 Sub-clause (2) and (3) whichallow detention of any army personnel, arrested on the charge of committing any crime, for more than eight days by the order of a commanding officer by producing the arrestee before the Chief of Army Staffs or Legal Department of the Nepal Army.Article 24 of the Interim Constitution states that anyone shall be produced before a judicial authority within 24 hours of his or her arrest.
SC judges to watch movie on Charles Sobhraj
Two justices of the Supreme Court will watch a documentary film about the life of alleged international serial killer Charles Gurumukh Sobhraj and the alleged crimes he committed on March 16. The movie is produced by the International Police Organisation (Interpol).A division bench of Justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Kalyan Shrestha is scheduled to watch the movie following a hearing conducted on sunday .
The judges decided to watch the latest documentary film in which Sobhraj’s interview has been recorded. He has reportedly confessed to committing various crimes in many countries in the interview.During today’s hearing, government attorney Brajesh Pyakurel sought the bench to consider Sobhraj’s interview while deciding the case.
According to former Inspector of Police Bishwo Lal Shrestha, who is assisting the prosecutors in the case, Sobhraj has confessed to his links with around 50 murders and using hundreds of others’ passports to travel to various countries in the interview.
The bench has reopened the fake passport case against Sobhraj, which was scrapped by the Kathmandu District Court and the Patan Appellate Court and Sobhraj’s appeal against convicting him on murder case by the lower courts. The government prosecutors have presented the movie “Interpol Investigates” and several investigative books written by various authors on Sobhraj and the crimes he allegedly committed in several countries.In the interview-based movie, how Sobhraj has been getting facilities and how he has been spending life in the central jail has been mentioned. “Sobhraj has confessed to having links with 50 murder cases and 100 passport forgery cases in the interview,” Bishwo Lal Shrestha added.
The lower courts have convicted Sobhraj of killing American national Connie Jo Bronzich and has been serving 20-year jail term.