Appellate courts to be dissolved

Kathmandu, June 5

The government today registered a bill at the Legislature-Parliament Secretariat, seeking amendment and integration of laws to make the judicial system compatible with the federal system, as per the constitutional obligation to set up high courts in each province within one year of promulgation of the new constitution.

According to the proposed new judicial system, the high courts will be more powerful than the appellate courts and will give final verdict on many cases that are under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, said Tek Prasad Dhungana, secretary, Ministry of Law, Justice and Constituent Assembly.

All the 16 appellate courts will be dissolved after the new bill is passed and their resources will be transferred to HCs. The unsettled cases of existing appellate courts will be transferred to the concerned HCs with the enactment of the new law.

However, HC’s verdict that sentences a person for up to 10 years jail term will be the final one and cannot be reviewed by the SC.

HC will be able to give final verdict on the appeal made against the verdicts of lower judicial organs, including district courts if the sentence is up to five-year jail term, fine up to Rs 5 lakh and the amount in question up to Rs 2.5 million; it means appeals cannot be made to SC on such cases settled by the HC.

HC will be authorised to review its verdicts and only the verdicts of life imprisonment can be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

“Since the high courts will have the jurisdiction of giving final verdict up to certain years in jail, many cases will be settled at the high court level. It will make the high courts more powerful than appellate courts and the burden on the Supreme Court will also be reduced,” said secretary Dhungana.

All three tiers of courts will have the jurisdiction to look into contempt of court cases related to them, as per the proposed provision.

Once this law is passed, an existing appellate court in a province will be transformed to high court. If there are two appellate courts in a province, one will be HC and another will remain the bench of the same HC, as per the proposed provision.

The bill has proposed 160 posts for all HCs. Each HC will have a minimum of 11 judges, including one chief judge.

District courts can look into appeals against the decisions made by local level judicial bodies, as per the new provision.

The SC can depute its justices to make surprise inspection of the performance of the HCs and district courts and the inspection report can be linked to award or punish the concerned judges and staff of high courts and district courts.