SC tells govt to set up panel to study Kumari custom

Kathmandu, October 31:

The Supreme Court today issued a directive to the government to set up a panel to study the Kumari custom in Kathmandu Valley.

A division bench of Justices Anup Raj Sharma and Ram Prasad Shrestha issued the order to set up the panel with the coordination of a joint secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation to study the matter.

The bench has given three months’ time for the job to be done so as to help the SC decide on the case.

The bench also told the panel to study about the possible reforms in the custom to protect the fundamental rights of Kumaris.

“The study is needed since there is a common stand between the writ petitioner and the defendants for positive reforms on this custom,” the bench observed.

The bench also directed the government to involve advocate Maharjan, defendant Dr Chunda Bajracharya and a historian of the custom in the panel. The bench also gave directions to collect facts about the custom after discussing with former Kumaries.

Advocate Maharjan, almost a year ago, had filed a Public Interest Litigation at the Supreme Court seeking its order to the Office of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Ministries of Women, Children and Social Welfare; Education, and Sports; Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and National Women Commission to effect reforms in the custom. According to the petitioner, there are 11 Kumaris in Kathmandu Valley.

She claimed that the fundamental rights of the Kumaris have been violated after their appointment as she claimed that Kumaris have not been getting sufficient food, proper education and health services.

According to the advocate, the right to movement, right to speech and expression, and right to secrecy have also been violated.

She also sought the court’s order to allow Kumaris to live with their family members and to rehabilitate them properly after retirement.