EDITORIAL: Control black market

The government is now facing a serious challenge to provide the essentials to the public by ensuring fair distribution

The black marketeers are making most of the opportunity to earn a fast buck at the expense of the people who have to face severe shortages of essentials including fuel, cooking gas, medicines and foodstuffs. Since the imposition of the so-called blockade at the check posts in the south border areas almost five months ago, these commodities have been hard to procure in the market. This has led many unscrupulous people on both sides of the border to take to smuggling or selling the scarce products on the black market. Even though most of the border check posts are now opened the one at Birgunj customs point has been experiencing a blockade for a protracted period. Incidentally, most of the goods are imported from this border check point, and as it remains closed the country is reeling under the shortages. In the meantime, even the authorities appear to be mute spectators even as fuel and other essentials are being openly smuggled in and sold on the black market at highly inflated prices which most of the Nepali people cannot afford.

During these difficult times when food, fuel and medicines and many other products are scarce the resilient people of Nepal have being experiencing immense hardships as many factories and other service-providing establishments are virtually closed or just running at very low capacity. This has made life difficult apart from having to stay hungry and face the cold without warm clothing and other hardships. In order to ease the life of the ordinary people it would have been best if the blockade had been lifted so that the essential items could enter Nepal experiencing scarcities like never before. The concerned should own up their shortcomings in providing people with these much needed items and allowing the illegal trafficking of the goods which has created flourishing black markets across the country with impunity.

It is the duty of the government to bring these illegal activities to a halt. The security agencies are also seen to be ineffective or working with the black marketeers who are also using children to transport the precious petroleum products. It is a matter of shame that some industrialists are hoarding their products to be sold at a much higher price than their actual cost. We also see black marketeers selling fuel in bottles by the road side without hindrance and, thereby, making a huge profit. Here we should not only blame the black marketeers for what is happening. People who buy such items are also encouraging these illegal practices, though they are doing so under a kind of compulsion. In the meantime, the country’s economy is taking a severe beating while the general people are in a pitiable plight. Essentials like fuel should be made available through rationing by ensuring that its distribution is fair. This means, except for some bodies providing essential services, fuel should be rationed and sold in a fair manner. Black marketeers should be discouraged and made to face stern punishment which is not the case now. The government is now facing a serious challenge to provide the essentials to the public by ensuring fair distribution. But in this task it has not been very successful. Therefore, to this aspect, it should direct its top attention.

Pleading time

The Supreme Court is reported to be considering the idea of limiting the pleading time of lawyers on all kinds of benches in order to release more time to settle the large backlogs of cases. Indeed, the cases involving rich people have been found to take much more time than necessary as they hire more lawyers. The apex court has already introduced this rule from January 1 for the constitutional bench. Under the new scheme, the bench asks the lawyers of both the plaintiff and defendant how much time they will need to plead their cases.

Critics say the pleading time should not be limited and lawyers should get any length of time to produce the facts, evidences and arguments. They also say that this rule will not suit Nepali conditions because in Nepal neither judges nor lawyers are given case files in advance, unlike in Western countries. Certainly, the pleading time should be long enough, but this does not mean that it can be stretched to any extent. The backlogs of cases in the courts of Nepal, including the Supreme Court which has 22,000 pending cases, have been increasing over the years.