EDITORIAL: Going federal

All the High Courts must maintain uniformity in delivering timely justice, and the judicial council has to keep a vigil on anomalies in the federal justice system

The government formed the High Courts in all seven Pradeshes and also designated their headquarters on Wednesday.

Biratnagar shall be the High Court headquarters for Pradesh No-1, Janakpur for Pradesh No-2, Patan for Pradesh No-3, Pokhara for Pradesh No-4, Tulsipur for Pradesh No-5, Surkhet for Pradesh No-6 and Dipayel for Pradesh No-7.

Earlier, there had been Appellate Courts in all these cities.

The rest of the nine places where Appellate Courts had been stationed have been designated as subordinate benches under the jurisdiction of the respective High Courts.

But the designated headquarters of the High Courts are temporary and they will be shifted towards the places where an elected Pradesh Assembly will choose its provincial capital.

With the formation of the High Court, federalism has officially come into operation. The government constituted the seven High Courts in accordance with the recently amended and integrated judicial administration, judicial council, judicial service and Supreme Court Act.

The government will appoint chief judges of the High Courts after the decision is published in the gazette. The High Courts will start working from September 18 onwards.

All the High Courts shall do the jobs which used to be done by the Appellate Courts with more judicial powers.

Constitutional experts have said that the formation of the High Court is a first step towards the implementation of federalism from the judiciary. The set principle of seniority has been maintained in a manner that the chief judge of the High Court shall be promoted to the Supreme Court.

The High Court has also been given more judicial power than the Appellate Court. For example, a High Court verdict on certain types of cases shall be final and no appeal can be made to the apex court.

It is hoped that the judiciary shall be more inclusive; set new precedents applicable with the Pradesh; and people shall have easy access to the judiciary, and the High Court also shall have the right to hear PIL (public interest litigation) which is a new provision not enjoyed by the Appellate Court.

With the formation of the High Court the apex court will be burdened with a few cases. Although the High Court has been constituted in line with the principle of federalism, constitutional experts have said that the Supreme Court has retained the power of making appointments of all the judges from the lower courts to the High Court.

But others have defended it saying that the apex court has been given this power to maintain uniformity and quality of justice delivery at all levels and in all Pradeshes.

One of the drawbacks of the law passed by Parliament regarding the formation of the High Court is that it cannot act as a court of record as in India.

Legal experts have also stressed the need to constitute a special bench within the High Court to look into special cases like taxation for which a judge having expertise on it is required.

The challenges ahead are that all the High Courts must maintain uniformity in delivering timely justice, and the judicial council has to keep a vigil on anomalies in the federal justice system.

Fighting fire

The firefighting capacity existing at present needs boosting as it is not able to fight fires in many municipalities.

The number of municipalities with fire engines will be 122 this current fiscal year. At present, of the municipalities totaling 217 only 100 of them possess fire engines.

We would be having more fire engines as the government is procuring an additional 34 such engines. The government has not been able to provide fire engines to all the municipalities.

The local bodies should be provided with at last one fire engine each, and they also need excavators, rollers, bulldozers and garbage trucks which is now woefully lacking. Some fire engines and firefighting equipment have been gifted to Nepal which would help fight fires.

A year these days sees at least 1,500 fire incidents which on an average kill 43 people and causes loss of property worth at least 350 million rupees.

Humans are to be blamed for much of the fires due to mishandling of candles, burning cigarette butts, short circuit, leakage of cooking gas. They are also caused by explosion of gas cylinders and burning stoves.

Therefore, the incidence of fires could be reduced if even simple precautions were taken.