KATHMANDU, May 15: Newly-appointed Chief Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhee, during his confirmation hearing last Thursday, made a commitment to install close circuit television (CCTV) in the Valley-based courts to check possible irregularities. He repeated his commitment in his address to the media in the brief press conference after he assumed the top judicial post.

But the Supreme Court has its own story about CCTV which is circulating among court staffers but has not yet reached the public ear. The story is about some corrupt and fearful court staffers who had earlier deliberately disabled a CCTV camera.

The Supreme Court, as former registrar Shree Prasad Pandit says, had introduced a CC TV at the Revision and Review Section on a trial basis some four years ago. Fearing possible resistance from court employees, Pandit had got the technology installed on a public holiday.

“I wanted that the court employees did not notice the CCTV installed in the section,” said Pandit.

As the head of the judicial administration then, Pandit was happy that he would be able to monitor the work and activities right from his office room. But his happiness was short-lived. “I came to know in a couple of days that the CCTV was broken,” Pandit recalled.

A court official who witnessed the technology broken said that his colleagues were frightened by the installation of the CCTV as it would, in their reading, record their irregularities, delays and absence from desks.

“Our colleagues had defended their wanton act arguing that if their work and activities were to be monitored, the work of judges and high-ranking officials should first be monitored in CCTV” the official, who wanted to be unnamed, said.

“In my opinion, they were right because the judges and high-ranking officials wanted to curb petty bribes by installing the CCTV.”

Two years ago, incumbent Registrar Dr Ram Krishna Timalsena also got six CCTVs set up in different sections. But court officials broke two CCTVs. The CCTVs remain non-functional till date.

A junior court official said CCTV will help check petty corruption by court officials and that the fresh CCTV initiative is also likely to face resistance from them.

But this time around, Dr Timalsena is optimistic. “The new chief justice has announced that CCTVs will be installed in courtrooms as well, making it easier for us to implement the technology this time,” said Dr Timalsena.

Chief Justice Rayamajhee is also aware of this story of CCTV at the Supreme Court. So he plans to begin the CCTV installation initiative right from his chamber. “This drive will begin right from my chamber so that others could not complain about being monitored through CCTV,” Rayamajhee said during his confirmation hearing last Thursday.

As the court was preparing to begin its fresh CCTV initiative, broken CCTV sets installed in the past were to be seen seen hanging from the walls inside the Supreme Court building.

Published on 2009-05-15 00:00:03