The rule of law cannot be upheld in society as long as the government pays no heed to the court verdicts and directives
The government’s non-compliance with the Supreme Court verdicts and directives on time is tantamount to violating the rule of law and the constitution. The apex court has passed a number of verdicts and directives in the name of the government to execute them as per the existing laws and the constitution. But the government has mostly failed to comply with those orders and verdicts, creating imbalances between the three organs of the state: Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. A state cannot function well in the absence of checks and balances between these organs. The executive has mainly failed to implement the directives and verdicts related to public interest litigation (PIL). According to Judgment Execution Directorate, only 38 cases out of 246 PIL cases passed by the apex court were executed by the government. When it came to individual interest, only five cases have been implemented out of a total of 1,603 cases settled by the Supreme Court in the past six years. The Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers has not implemented even a single case out of a total of 23 cases settled by the court.
The Supreme Court has issued its verdicts and directives in the name of various ministries to implement them within the given time-frame. But almost all the ministries have not complied with the court’s decisions, which are binding to the executive. The all the ministries have set up judgment execution units within their ministries. Even the Office of the Attorney General, which is mandated to oversee the execution of the judgment, has been found to be inactive when it comes to executing the court verdicts. The Senior Citizen Act is a case of how it has been gathering dust on a shelf even though it was enacted in 2006. The Act has remained non-implemented for so many years because the government has yet to frame directives for it. The Act has proposed commuting elderly people’s jail term in certain crimes. But it has not come into force due to lack of the directives.
The rule of law cannot be upheld as long as the state itself ignores the court verdicts time and again and also lingers in executing them. If someone wins a case in the final court of law but cannot exercise the right ensured by the court, it is akin to losing the case. That’s why we often say “justice delayed is justice denied”. The government cannot afford to delay implementing the court verdicts when they are directly related to ensuring the rights of an individual. It might take time to implement the directives issued by the court on issues related to the environment, culture, education and health due to resource constraint. But it is the duty of the state to try its best to comply with the court orders without much delay. In order to execute the court verdicts and directives, the state must mobilise its resources, law enforcement agencies and make its bureaucracy efficient. The most worrying fact is that the government drafts a law, respecting the court verdict, but takes time to draft its regulations, without which no law can come into force. The court, on the other hand, should also take steps to ensure that its verdicts and directives are implemented on time.
The municipality started picking up garbage from the streets of Kathmandu from Monday, after it was left unattended for days following obstruction by the locals living around the Sisdole landfill site. The locals have demanded that the government buy 42- 50 ropanis of their land that the landfill site usurped during its expansion over a 14-year period. The locals have given a 15-day ultimatum to the Kathmandu Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to finalise the issue.
What if the KMC cannot find a solution by then? Seeing garbage heaps on the streets of Kathmandu is nothing new, it has happened every time the locals of Sisdole refused to allow trucks to ferry garbage there for various reasons. The locals would not have been so irate time and again if the KMC had implemented the agreement with them in both letter and spirit. The landfill site is brimming with garbage, and a new one further south will take some time to complete.
As Kathmandu’s population increases, so will the garbage it generates. The best way to give longevity to the new landfill site is to transport as little garbage as possible there. This means recycling as much as possible in the city itself, so that small hitches don’t lead to garbage heaps overnight.
A version of this article appears in print on July 02, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.