Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nepal, Kedar Prasad Giri, has said he is lobbying with the political parties represented in the Constituent Assembly (CA) to make judiciary effective and independent in the new constitution that will be drafted by the recently elected CA.

(From Left) Prof. Hutt, Dr Timalsena and Chief Justice Giri at the interaction programme.
(From Left) Prof. Hutt, Dr Timalsena and Chief Justice Giri at the interaction programme.
(Photo courtesy: London Chhalphal)

Addressing a talk programme organised by London Chhalphal and Britain-Nepal Academic Council (BNAC) jointly at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS), Russsel Square, London, on Friday, Chief Justice Giri said the judiciary enjoyed a great degree of freedom under the 1990 constitution. He, however, said there have been some attempts to encroach upon the independence of the judiciary in the interim constitution of 2063 BS.

The interim constitution has made provision for the Chief Justice to be appointed by the Prime Minister upon the recommendation of the Judicial Council and stipulatest that the Supreme Court submit its annual report to the Prime Minister. CJ Giri is also the first Judicial head in the country to be appointed to the post after a parliamentary hearing. Constitutional experts have, however, strongly criticised such provisions saying that they intend to compromise the independence of the country’s judiciary. CJ Giri said there was a need to keep the judiciary out of the influence of the legislature and executive. He did not elaborate. He further said federalism couldn’t function in the absence of an independent and strong judiciary.

Addressing the function, Registrar at the Supreme Court, Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena, said the Supreme Court had adopted the ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy regarding corruption in the country’s judiciary. He admitted that judicial process around the world was slow moving but said Nepal’s judiciary was developing and devising new ways to settle pending cases. He said out of nearly 13,000 cases pending in the country’s courts, nearly 5,000 were registered this year alone and there was a backlog of nearly 7,000 cases. He said there were only 13 Justices at the Supreme Court at the moment while there was a vacancy for 21 more.

Dr. Timalsena said Nepal’s judiciary was working as an agent of change as well as stability. Replying to a query, he said the concept of ‘Jana Adalat’ was anti-thetical to the notion of rule of law. He, however, expressed hope that as the CPN (Maoist) was poised to lead a new government, cases being considered by the “parallel courts” set up by the Maoists in the past would come to the formal system of judiciary. “Since the Maoists have emerged as the single largest party in the CA, they should be given an opportunity to form the government. We should honour the people’s verdict,” he added.

Speaking at the function, chairman of BNAC and head of the Dept of Law at the Leeds University, UK, Professor Surya P Subedi said despite employing some soft law instruments, Nepali judiciary has deliverd progressive verdicts in the past. He said role of judiciary in ensuring gender equality in Nepal needed to be commended. He also said the possibility of training Judges and members of Nepali judiciary at the SOAS and other UK institutions should be explored.

Prof. Michael Hutt of the SOAS, University of London, welcomed the guests while Oliver Spencer Shrestha of the London Chhalphal conducted the programme.

A Nepali team led by Chief Justice Giri paid an official visit to the United Kingdom at the invitation of the British government. During the visit they met Lord Chief Justice Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers and Attorney General Baroness Scotland QC, among others. During the meeting, issues of bilateral judicial cooperation were discussed, according to a statement issued by the Nepali embassy in London. July 01 08