KATHMANDU, Dec 12: In a bid to decentralize power in the judiciary and enhance rural people´s access to justice, the Law and Justice Ministry has decided to empower all district courts to take up habeas corpus petitions.

“We have forwarded our decision to the cabinet for final approval two days ago, said Law and Justice Minister Prem Bahadur Singh, adding, “The decision aims to facilitate timely justice, especially for the people from the rural areas.” Currently, the Supreme Court (SC) and 16 Appellate Courts are authorized to take up habeas corpus writs.

People, especially from the rural areas, are compelled to travel long-distances to file habeas corpus petitions.

The Supreme Court, considering the gravity of habeas corpus, runs office even during Dashain and Tihar vacations. As per the constitution and existing laws, no one can be detained for more than 24 hours unless proven guilty. Police has to produce the detainees before the court within 24 hours of the arrest.

“People are compelled to bear unnecessary tension and spend huge amounts of money to seek justice,” said Minister Singh, adding, “People could get rid of such problems if the district courts are empowered to take up habeas corpus petitions.”

According to Law and Justice Secretary Madhav Paudel, empowering district courts to take up habeas corpus petitions would decentralize power in the judiciary.

“The decision will help enhance common people´s access to justice and pave way for timely and effective settlement of habeas corpus petitions in a cost effective way, Secretary Paudel said, adding, “Judicial power shouldn´t be confined within the apex court.”