SC mulling to limit lawyers’ pleading time

Kathmandu, January 20

The Supreme Court is mulling to limit the time allowed to lawyers to plead their cases in all kinds of benches after the same rule earlier enforced in the constitutional bench proved beneficial.

Registrar of the SC Shrikant Paudel said the apex court had adopted the new policy in the constitutional bench from January 1. “We introduced this rule to save the court’s precious time as cases of rich people take unnecessary time because they hire more lawyers,” said Paudel.

According to Paudel, the bench asks the lawyers representing both the sides the plaintiff and the defendant the time they would require to plead their cases. The lawyers would then be asked to put forth their arguments within the time they seek.

Paudel said the new rule enabled the court to look into more cases. “Often rich clients tend to hire more lawyers and if all the lawyers are allowed to put forth their arguments, a single case could take an entire day,” Paudel said, adding that the new rule would enable the court to look into maximum number of cases, which would also benefit people who can afford only few lawyers.

Vice President of Nepal Bar Association Tika Ram Bhattarai, however, said the new rule would not serve the purpose of justice.

He said the Supreme Court was only trying to clear backlogs by imposing the new rule.

“The Supreme Court being the highest court should carefully weigh the facts and evidences. It should not compromise on the lawyer’s pleading time in the name of clearing its backlog,” said Bhattarai.

He said the judges and lawyers receive case files in advance in western countries but in Nepal neither judges nor lawyers are given case files in advance.

The SC has a backlog of 22,000 cases. As per the new constitution, there are positions for 21 justices in the Supreme Court, but it currently has only 10 justices.

Appointment of justices should be made from among the judges of the high court as per the new constitution.

But since the appellate courts have not yet been converted into high courts, appointment of justices to the SC has been delayed, said SC Registrar Paudel.