SC justices keep mum on expansion plan

Kathmandu, January 12:

The Supreme Court justices today refused to give any advice to the government-formed panel whether the government’s plan to expand the benches of the Supreme Court in Biratnagar and Nepalgunj was suitable.

The panel members had approached the Supreme Court seeking suggestions from the Justices, who denied giving any.

Following a strong criticism of the government plan from the legal circle, a panel was constituted under the chairmanship of SC Justice Khil Raj Regmi to conduct a study.

The government has proposed to expand the apex court benches to Biratnagar and Nepalgunj in order to ensure commoners easy access to justice. Chairman Regmi, members Surya Koirala, Khem Narayan Dhungana and Kamalsali Ghimire had visited the apex court.

The panel has been taking the advice of concerned stakeholders prior to executing the government’s plan. The panel is considering the jurisdiction of many subordinate courts as well.

“We have said that it is not the right time to expand the benches,” an SC justice told this daily. “Since the Constituent Assembly is mulling over drafting the constitution, possibly defining a new judicial structure, there is no meaning to conduct such a transitional study,” the justice argued.

Panel member Khem Narayan Dhungana, however, said the justices had promised them a separate meeting to suggest whether the government’s plan was workable.

“The issue did not feature in the meeting. We will meet separately as it does not suit the full court to take a stance on the issue,” Dhungana added.