A negative list will certainly help introduce elements of quality that will help make judicial decisions impartialThere are some important provisions in the Bill that the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs registered in Parliament on Monday. The Bill seeks to amend the Judicial Council Act, 2047 in order to address the requirements of the new federal setup of the judiciary of the country. This mainly deals with the criteria for appointing judges and other provisions for filling the judicial vacancies. It also seeks to integrate and clarify the functions, duties and jurisdiction of the Judicial Council (JC), which is responsible for recommending appointment and promotion of judges other than the Chief Justice. If the Bill is passed along with the proposed amendments, JC will have the added responsibility of making and updating a roster of eligible judicial candidates. JC will also have the power to supervise and monitor the performance of judges and to keep their integrated records, to investigate complaints against them and to file corruption cases against them. The Bill also proposes several criteria that a candidate must meet before being appointed as a judge. They promise to improve the performance of the judges and the judiciary by ensuring the appointment of suitable people as judges and the quality of the legal process, including judicial decisions. The criteria distinguishes between bad and good conduct of judges and judicial candidates. The proposed amendment seeks to bar an active member of a political party. Though this is a step forward from the existing provisions, membership of a political party itself or even of its sister organization should disqualify a candidate from a judgeship. In Nepal even professionals like doctors, engineers and lawyers are divided and organized along party lines, and they have been acting as sister organisations of the political parties. If the conditions are not made strict, the possibility of easily avoiding such a disqualification is likely; therefore, anybody who resigns from the party just before their appointment should be barred from appointment as well. Only such an improved provision may be expected to discourage division of judicial posts among the various political parties. The present Bill is significant because over the past years, particularly since the restoration of multiparty system in the country in 1990, many people have been appointed as judges, including in the Supreme Court, mainly on the basis of their political faith or affiliation to a certain political party. The recent appointment of eleven apex court judges, who have yet to go through the parliamentary hearing process, have raised public controversy, as certain names have been singled out for their closeness to certain political parties and for their appointment on quota system of political parties, even though they might not be active members of any political party. Such a negative list will certainly help introduce elements of quality that will help make judicial decisions impartial, informed and based on real evidence and a true interpretation of the law and the judicial principles. This in turn is expected to improve the quality of justice delivery and significantly raise the public faith in the judiciary, as well as strengthen the democratic system.
Ordeal of zoo The members of the Environment Protection Committee (EPC) of the Legislature Parliament have raised concern about the deplorable condition of the central zoo in Jawalakhel. The zoo possesses merely 6 hectares of land, and it is accommodating around 104 species of mammals, birds, fishes and reptiles. The zoo does not have sufficient space for these. As a result some species have not been able to breed for long in the zoo due to the congestion. The EPC office has therefore directed the government to table a bill for the management of zoos in the Parliament. There are both legal and illegal mini zoos that also need to be monitored to see to it, among other things, that the animals are not abused in the cages. The government should take the necessary steps for the management of the only central zoo which sees a huge number of visitors from all over the country. There should also be a legal provision that would permit the exchange of various species of animals with zoos of other countries as well. It would be wise to shift the zoo now in Suryabinayak. It would be great if zoos were set up in other parts of the country too to help in the conservation of biodiversity.