Bid to reform judicial system
KATHMANDU: There is a Nepali saying: Even an enemy should not visit courts and hospitals. This saying may not hold true in the developed countries because people visit hospitals to stay healthy and move courts to seek justice. They trust the lawyers and visit them frequently.
In Nepal’s context, people have a different perception of lawyers and doctors. They think hospitals and courts are meant to fleece people. However, the authorities concerned are striving to change that perception. In its bid to reform the judicial service, the Supreme Court has been doing groundwork to introduce a new policy where the litigants don’t need to visit the Supreme Court and the Appellate Courts just to follow up the status of their cases.
“The litigants will get such information over phone and through email. This will be a big relief for the general public, who have been bearing the brunt of frequent bandhs and strikes,” advocate Ambar Thapa opined. “This can also help curb irregularities, as most people abhor bribing junior staffers just to expedite the proceedings in a case,” Thapa said, adding, “This may not be able to tackle corruption in a big way but will be a worthy beginning in the process to reform the judiciary.” Shreekanta Paudel, a joint registrar of the SC, said the new system would benefit three major stakeholder of the judiciary — the clients, the lawyers and the judges.
Apex court expects to introduce the new system once the full court meeting of the SC judges
give its nod. The lawyers have full authority to visit the court of law on behalf of their clients in western countries and a person does not need to be physically present in most cases. But in Nepal people are often forced to be present in court in relation to the cases concerning them, making the above mentioned saying popular.
However, the proposed system will be applicable in the appeal proceedings in Supreme Court and the Appellate Courts but not in fresh cases in district courts.
Under this system the appellants and defendants need not be present in the courts for proceedings of their cases. Their presence will not be mandatory even during the court presence date or the final hearing. According to Paudel, the courts are likely to decide cases on time and help provide speedy justice after the implementation of the policy.
The proposed changes will save time and money of the litigants, while the lawyers will become more accountable and responsible.
A panel comprising Justice Khil Raj Regmi, Deputy Attorney General Tika Bahadur Hamal, vice-president of the Nepal Bar Association Hari Prasad Uprety and vice-president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Shyam Prasad Dhungel have been finalising the draft of the new policy.
Before the implementation of the new policy, there is an essential need to amend Muluki Ain, the Regulations of the Supreme Court, Appellate Court and District Court. Earlier, there was a strict provision that required the litigants to be present in the court of law for the legal proceedings to move forward.
According to advocate Ballav Basnet, this is a good idea but inadequate representation of the litigants in the courts may pose a hurdle.
Will save litigants time and money; free them from stress. They can use email or phone or contact lawyers to know the latest development in the proceedings of their cases. Security threat will be reduced for the judges, as lesser number of commoners will be visiting the courts; the officials will be dealing with fewer commoners.
The lawyers will become more responsible and accountable, as the litigants will have to depend on lawyers. Copies of documents can be obtained without hindrances from court.
Litigants may be left in the dark over the status of the cases. Opponents may manipulate the proceedings. Brokers may start intervening.
If the policy is not implemented properly, it may affect the judicial reforms.
The lawyers may not be able to collect their fees on time.