SC for tougher penalty for contempt of lower courts

KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court (SC) today recommended that the government level the quantum of sentence on contempt of court charges and commissioned a three-member panel to suggest names of private practitioners eligible for promotion as senior advocates.

As per existing provisions, a person can get up to one year jail term and Rs 10,000 as fine or both if convicted of disrespecting the SC; up to six months of sentence and Rs 5,000 as fine or both in case of disrespecting appellate court; and a mere three months of sentence or Rs 1,000 as fine or both if charged with disrespecting the district court.

“Since all courts — apex or lower — have equal dignity, the length of sentence should be made equal by amending the existing legal provisions,” SC assistant spokesman Hemanta Rawal said. The decision was taken by the full court headed by Chief Justice Anup Raj Sharma on the basis of the report submitted by a panel of Justices Prem Sharma, Mohan Prasad Sitoula and Bharat Raj Upreti.

The recommendation has that the government will have to increase the sentence applicable for district and appeal courts, matching it with that for SC.

As decided by the meeting, Justices Khil Raj Regmi, Ram Kumar Prasad Shah and Prakash Wosti will pick lawyers deserving the dignified honourary title awarded by the SC. As per the existing legal provisions, private practitioners with at least 15 years of experience and those who have worked to uphold the rule of law are eligible for promotion as senior advocates. The position of senior advocate is an honourary title awarded by the SC and there are 67 of them currently in Nepal.

According to a member of the Nepal Bar Association, advocates Sushil Pant, Shambhu Thapa, Anil Kumar Sinha, Komal Prasad Ghimire, Ram Prasad Shrestha, Devendra Nepali, Tej Prasad Kandel and Dharma Upreti are among the front-runners for the title. “But this title should not be provided to anyone who who have chosen other occupations,” he added. There are around a dozen lawyers who are now in the Constituent Assembly including its chairman Subas Chandra Nembang, Agni Kharel, Sapana Pradhan Malla, Ramesh Lekhak, Eak Raj Bhandari, Khim Lal Devkota and Pushpa Bhusal who could be by-passed to get the honourary title.