Legal Development in Nepal

About Blog and Blog Author

These days, I am not much able to track all the news about Legal Development in Nepal. With the coming Election, most of the time, I have kept myself busy in updating recent events related to Election and lack of time has hampered me to update this blog constantly. Though the enthusiasm with which I have started this blog has not disappeared, I must confess that I will not be updating this blog with all the legal news now onwards. What I intend to do nowonwards is to update the blog with most important legal news and instead of copying and pasting news from Various sources, I try to give my views more often which does not mean that I will not be collecting news from various sources.

I will collect many news from various sources which are related to legal development in Nepal but will be bit selective to publish them here. It gives me to do some other works as I am pursuing to work on Constitutional matters related to New going to be Constitution in Nepal and allows me to work on some issues of IPR.

I will elaborate on these issues when time comes and will present you some of my works when they are ready.

Keep on visiting!!!!!!!!

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Governor Convicted!!!!

Nepalnews reports this recent development here that fomer Nepal Rashtra Bank Governor has been found guilty of financial irregularities by Supreme Court of Nepal and punishment has been imposed on him. We were tracking this news constantly and you can read rest of the stories here. I have no comment on this news as I am not able to read the text of judgments but express my solidarity withdreams of corruption free society. And this is the end of constant following on this corruption case as I have decided to be a bit selective while publishing blog. This issue has been touched in my next entry.

The Supreme Court (SC), Tuesday, decided that governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Bijaya Nath Bhattarai and director Surendra Pradhan are guilty of irregularities.

The single bench of judge Tahir Ali Ansari decided that they are guilty of irregularities worth Rs 3.3 million since they did not initiate steps to obtain compensation from a consulting firm after terminating contract with them in a financial sector reforms programme.

The SC decided that the two should be fined the same amount as penalty.

The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) had filed a case against the two for committing irregularities worth around Rs 20 million.

Since the CIAA filed the case against them eight months ago, the two had remained suspended.

Last month, the Special Court had delivered a fractured verdict on the case – with each of the three judges giving different opinions regarding their guilt. Consequently, the case had been referred to the apex court.

SC Clears Path for Upper Karnali Project

This is a news that we were waiting from Supreme Court of Nepal for some days. Though the matter has not been disposed fully, SC of Nepal has refused to give interim stay on the agreement signed by Government of Nepal and a private Indian Company GMR Energy of India. The News is reported here by Kanunisanchar.

I, nowonwards, generally rest my news on this site-Kanunisanchar.com as it collects most of the news as soon as it is pronounced.

If You remember, in this blog post, I had expressed my annoyance in a way PIL was filed as in my opinion, the petitioners are not able to make any such case and had demanded (in the sense expected that) SC must reject the petition for lack of merits. We need to wait and see what SC has to say on its final pronouncement. And it is expected that whatever will be the outcome of the case, it will be surely landmark in the annals of Foreign Investment related laws and constitutional validity of such laws in ‘New Nepal’.

In my earlier blog post, I had posed a question to the petitioners formulated in this way as mentioned below and I still believe that the question is still a valid one to find a simple answer for this case.

 “One simple question to petitioners: Are they going to file Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against government for not making dam and not obstructing the flow of rivers which eventually goes to mix in Bay of Bengal? My learned brothers, please look at there, water-our natural resources- is flowing down to south to foreign land and Our Parliament has not passed any such resolution.”

You can read the Supreme Court report here and is reproduced below:

Refusing to issue a stay order in the Upper Karnali Hydropower Project case, the Supreme Court on Thursday permitted the government to go ahead with the implementation of the understanding reached with Hyderabad-based GMR Energy Limited on the 300-MW power project.

A division bench of Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri and Justice Ram Kumar Prasad Shah refused to issue a stay order, and said the constitutional and legal questions raised by the petitioners will be settled by the court while delivering a final verdict on the case.
“The question whether the understanding needed a parliamentary approval or not will be decided while delivering the final verdict,” the bench stated.

The bench said: “Though the water flowing in a river is a natural resource, further discussion is required to decide on whether electricity generated from it is a natural resource or not, and whether an MoU signed with any national, international or joint venture company is a treaty or not.”

Advocates Bal Krishna Neupane, Borna Bahadur Karki, Tika Ram Bhattarai, Bhimarjun Acharya and Kamal Nayan Panta pleaded on behalf of the petitioners while Attorney General Yagya Murti Banjade and Deputy Attorney General Narendra Prasad Pathak defended the government.

Advocates Bharat Raj Upreti, Sushil Kumar Pant, Anil Kumar Sinha and Amarjivi Ghimire pleaded on behalf of the GMR Energy Limited.
Gorakha Bahadur BC of Kalikot and Ram Singh Rawal of Surkhet had jointly challenged the understanding reached between the government and the GMR Energy Limited to generate 300-MW hydropower from the Karnali River.

The counsels of the petitioners claimed that the signing of the agreement between the government and the GMR limited was unconstitutional. They also claimed that it was treaty related to sharing of a natural resource, and that the government violated the constitution by not seeking a parliamentary approval for it. The constitution says any treaty related to sharing of natural resources must be approved by a two-thirds majority of the parliament.

The government however claimed that the MoU was not related to sharing of natural resources and it did not need a parliamentary approval.

Man convicted for attempt on CJ’s life

The News is quite straight. I have taken this news from Kantipur which has reported this news here. It seems that  the accused is not satisfied with the judgment and they have of course recourse to arrroach Appellate Court.

Kathmandu District Court on Sunday convicted one Prabhat Kumar Gupta of Birgunj on the charge of attempting to murder Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri.

Judge Shiva Narayan Yadav announced five years imprisonment for Gupta who “attacked” Giri with a knife at the latter’s residence at Ghattekulo on November 30, 2006. Giri, the senior most Justice then, survived the attack but sustained an injury on the thumb of his right hand.

But Gupta, in a statement to the parliament last September, had maintained that he entered the premises of Giri’s house to bribe him in a land related case. He further argued that Giri sustained injuries in a skirmish that followed after the former tried to record the conversation between him and Giri.

It may be recalled that the controversial Gupta case had featured prominently when Giri faced the parliamentary confirmation hearing for being nominated as Chief Justice in September last year. Parliamentarians had then questioned during the hearing whether Gupta would get justice after he became the Chief Justice. Giri had evaded the question saying that he would not comment on the case since it was being considered in the district court.

Gupta had staged fast-on-to-death, protesting Giri’s nomination as Chief Justice and demanded that  parliament disapprove his nomination.

Gupta’s lawyer Kedar Karki questioned the impartiality of the verdict today while announcing he would appeal against the verdict at the appellate court.

The Truth is Judiciary not Independent

The Judiciary of Nepal is not independent, is not effective and is not functioning properly. This is the truth with which all common Nepalese People were aware from long time. Now, it seems that even our judiciary has realised this fact, though bit late.
Kantipur reports here about this news. We just to hope to see effective judiciary in this country to make Democracy and Justice viable in Nepal.

The Supreme Court, while identifying its problems, has said the judiciary has not been independent, competent and effective at par with international standard.
The judiciary has not been as independent, competent and effective as it should be as per the principle of separation of power and universally accepted values,” the Supreme Court stated in its annual report made public on Sunday.
It further said the judiciary has been facing serious challenges in establishing a justice system as envisioned in the constitution.
The court, however, has not stated the reasons that have made the judiciary such a weak institution. But, it may be recalled that the judiciary has long been complaining against constitutional provisions requiring judges to face parliament before appointment and requiring the judiciary to present its report to the Prime Minister, who is head of the executive. Judges have maintained that the provisions have undermined the very principle of judicial independence.

Besides, the apex court has also complained that the judiciary has not featured in the national plan of the country with priority.

According to the report, there are 52,098 backlogs in all courts across the country. In the Supreme Court alone, there are 13,476 pending cases whereas the figure at the district courts is 30,819. Similarly, the backlogs at the appellate courts is 7,803.

Pakistani Lawyer Moves to Supreme Court of Nepal

A little disturbing news, if the contentions of the counsels are proved to be true, has been published by Nepalnews here.
A Pakistani lawyer has moved the Supreme Court (SC) in Nepal against what he called illegal arrest of two Pakistani citizens by the Nepal Police and their subsequent handing over to the Indian authorities about two years ago.
The two Pakistani citizens, Asif Ali and Walid Sajjad, had arrived in Kathmandu to explore business opportunities and were staying in Jagat Hotel, near the tourist hub of Thamel in Kathmandu before being picked up by the Nepal Investigation Department on the night of 12th July 2006 “without any apparent reason” or warrant issued against them. They were then reportedly handed over to the Indian intelligence agency at the Embassy of India in Kathmandu.

C.M. Farooq had filed a case against the illegal arrest of the two at the Supreme Court of Nepal under the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007 on Feb 21. Following which the SC issued a show cause notice, ordering the authorities to produce the two Pakistani citizens in the court

“At the time of their arrest neither were they involved in any case nor had they violated any honorable law of Nepal. They were legally staying in Nepal on legal visa,” Farooq said in a statement issued afterwards.

Farooq said that in spite of all the efforts to release the two innocent Pakistani citizens, the only outcome was the access granted by the Indian Government to the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi to have a meeting with Asif Ali.

“It was through that meeting that we came to know Asif Ali was charged/implicated in a fake FIR number 59/2006 New Delhi, with different fake cases registered under sections 121, 121-A/ 122, /123/120-B, Indian Penal Code, 4/5 Explosive Substance Act, 18,2-B/23 Unlawful Activities, and 14 Foreign Act,” he said.

He said that because of shock, the father of Asif Ali had died. He said that Asif Ali was somewhat lucky as he had been located and granted Counsellor Access but his business partner, Walid Sajjad has been neither produced in any court of law nor his whereabouts are known.

“He is probably in the custody of Indian Intelligence agencies,” he said.

The two Pakistani businessmen dealt in readymade garments and used to regularly travel to Bangladesh and the Middle East. They were also said to have been carrying a substantial amount of money for business purposes

The families of the Pakistani businessmen came to know about the arrest of their dear ones through the media in July, 2006, which stated that two Pakistani nationals were arrested on suspicion of involvement in Mumbai train blasts.

NRB Governor Case Hearing in Supreme Court

We are constantly following the corruption case of NRB Governor. We have a news today that SC has fixed the date for hearing on the case.
Here is a report by Kantipur and another report is here by Nepalnews.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday decided to hold a hearing on the corruption case against Governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Bijaya Nath Bhattarai and another NRB official Surendra Man Pradhan, on March 11.
The apex court is going to take up the case after Special Court judges could not pass a unanimous verdict on the case on February 17. All three judges of the court had passed different verdicts on the case. Now, a single bench of the apex court will decide the case.

As ordered by the Special Court on February 17, Governor Bhattarai and Pradhan presented themselves in person before the apex court on Wednesday for a general date. The Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has accused Bhattarai and Pradhan of causing loss worth Rs 24.5 million to public property by not claiming compensation after terminating a consulting agreement unilaterally with KPMG, a Sri Lanka-based consulting firm.

 

 

And the Nepalnews Report:

The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday set March 11 as the date to conduct a hearing on charges of financial irregularities lodged against governor of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) Bijay Nath Bhattarai and director of the bank Surendra Man Pradhan.

Both Bhattarai and Pradhan had reached the Supreme Court as per the court’s summon orders.

After remaining pending at the special court for six months, the case had been referred to the apex court after three of the presiding judges of the special court gave three different verdicts on the case.

The case against governor Bhattarai, who remains suspended since last seven months after the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) slapped him with charges of financial irregularities, has attracted even the attention of donors with some of them publicly expressing disenchantment over the delay in settling of such a ‘sensitive case involving the governor of the central bank.’

The Special Court had been pending its verdict on the case on various grounds for the last many months.

Bhattarai and Pradhan face charges of committing financial irregularities worth nearly Rs 20 million in a financial sector reform programme.

SC withdraws fine………but the question is why?

 

Kantipur today reported this news. It was just a follow up of earlier news. Our blog also highlighted this news and I wrote even an article in this blog supporting the move of Supreme Court. I expressed my displeasure that the fine is so low and in fact, my point was it must have been a higher amount. But kantipur reports that many lawyers, i.e. legal luminary in Nepal critisized the judgement.

The decision to fine the lawyer, the first of its kind in Nepali judiciary, had drawn criticism from the lawyers’ community.

I do not understand why.

may be in response of that criticism, it has been reported now that Supreme Court has decided to withdraw the fine of Rs. 5. It is just an amount of Rs. 5 and may not have that great significance but let’s see the reason of Supreme Court.

“Though the bench concluded it would slap the legal cost on the petitioner as a token of punishment, the petitioner be exempted from the fine as he is a lawyer.”

What does this mean? Is SC saying that there are two classes of people in this country-lawyers and non-lawyers? where lawyers will not and should not be fined for bringing frivolous petitions? Is SC saying that had the petition been filed by any common person, who has not studied law, then, decision to impose Rs. 5 would be justified? If this is so, it is ridiculous. and what about the precedent value of this jusgement? Does this act as stare decisis in future that lawyers will not be fined but common citizens will be. I hope not.

I have nothing personal against the counsel involved in the case but I find SC’s reasons not so pursuasive But still the message is clear that in the future, if you, whether you are lawyer or not, try to abuse the process of law, your petition will deserve the kind of respect it can command-that is outright dismissal and imposition of fine on you.

I hope that the wheels of justice will not face further fabricating petitions in the future after the pronouncement of this judgement.

The Supreme Court has decided to withdraw its February 6 decision to fine lawyer Dhananjaya Khanal for bringing a frivolous writ petition.   While quashing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Khanal, Justices Balram KC and Gauri Dhakal had pronounced a fine of Rs 5 on Khanal. However, the judges, in the full text of the verdict of the petition prepared on Sunday, ruled otherwise.  The judges said in the full text verdict, “Though the bench concluded it would slap the legal cost on the petitioner as a token of punishment, the petitioner be exempted from the fine as he is a lawyer.”  However, the bench warned the lawyer not to produce frivolous writ petitions in future.  The decision to fine the lawyer, the first of its kind in Nepali judiciary, had drawn criticism from the lawyers’ community.

Case in Supreme Court on Upper Karnali Hydroelectric Project

I read a news here published by kantipur and for me, this news is deeply annoying and frustrating. I feel that the court must have outrightly rejected the petition citing without merit on the petition. The matter relates to a contract awarded to an Indian Company by the government of Nepal after a competitive bidding process.
As per the news report, the petitioners have claimed in their petition that the contract awarded to the Indian Company is violative of constitution as water, as a natural resources, have been passed to foreign alien without any ratification by the parliament.
The claim of the petitioners is as follows:
B.C. and Rawal moved the court with a Public Interest litigation (PIL), accusing the government of violating Article 156 (1) (2) (D) and (3) of the Interim Constitution while awarding the project to GMR early this year.

They argued that the constitutional provisions require an approval from a two-third majority of the lawmakers in the parliament prior to inking any agreement on natural resources, but the Upper Karnali agreement was signed without meeting the constitutional requirements.

For me, it is simply the abuse of process of law by the petitioners or lack of knowledge of globalised commercial law. What we should understand here is that this is just a commercial contract between government and another party. And, there will be enough safeguards in the contractual agreements between the parties. There are obviously terminating clause in the contract that take care of any such situation when our natural resources are affected. There is no need of making hue and cry and to show nationalistic feelings. We should understand that government has not sold our territory, nor handed over any land/water to the foreigners. It is in plian legal language a lease-in word as well as in substance. There, what is the need of creating obstacles. If we start taking narrow approach, then, it really hampers our development.

“One simple question to petitioners: Are they going to file Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against government for not making dam and not obstructing the flow of rivers which eventually goes to mix in Bay of Bengal? My learned brothers, please look at there, water-our natural resources- is flowing down to south to foreign land and Our Parliament has not passed any such resolution.”

I feel the petion is plainly vague.

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a show cause notice to the government regarding the latter’s agreement with India’s GMR Energy Ltd on the 300 MW Upper Karnali Hydroelectric Project.
Besides, the Supreme Court said that it would hold a discussion on March 7 on whether the implementation of the agreement should be stayed, as demanded by writ petitioners Gorakh Bahadur B.C of Kalikot and Ram Singh Rawal of Surkhet, while summoning the defendants to be present before it on that day.

B.C. and Rawal moved the court with a Public Interest litigation (PIL), accusing the government of violating Article 156 (1) (2) (D) and (3) of the Interim Constitution while awarding the project to GMR early this year.

They argued that the constitutional provisions require an approval from a two-third majority of the lawmakers in the parliament prior to inking any agreement on natural resources, but the Upper Karnali agreement was signed without meeting the constitutional requirements.

Justice Balram KC passed the order after an initial hearing on Friday.

Office of the Prime Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology, Ministry of Finance, Parliamentary Committee on Natural Resources and Means, Parliamentary Finance Committee and Department of Electricity Development have been made defendants in the case.

UNMIN stresses on impartial law enforcement

Kantipur reports here that UNMIN has stressed on the impartial law enforcement. The news is slightly long and You can read it here:
Ian Martin, chief of United Nations Mission in Nepal (UNMIN), has expressed his view about the ongoing preparations for the Constituent Assembly (CA) polls slated for April 10 and stated his concern to establish impartial law enforcement across the country. He also suggested six high priority areas for the credibility of the CA polls, reiterated UN’s commitment to ‘assist’ the country in creating a favourable environment for the polls and expressed his support for economic and social change for a democratic transition of Nepal.
UNMIN chief Martin in a statement at the Nepal Donor Consultation Meeting at the Ministry of Finance Thursday expressed concern of the international community for the success of the ongoing peace process.

“On each occasion when I go to United Nations Headquarters to report to the Security Council on the progress of Nepal’s peace process and the support to it of the UN, I am reminded what a strong and unanimous consensus there is within the international community wanting to see this peace process succeed,” he said, “It’s not a secret that in some conflict and post-conflict situations the international community itself is divided, but Nepal only has friends, and its friends are united in support of its transition.  The world was deeply impressed with the speed with which a Nepalese peace process, a process not mediated by any third party, moved forward in 2006 to end a ten-year armed conflict: the international community wanted, and wants, to support it to the utmost.”

However, he also stated the reasons for the current conflict in view between the ruling parties, concerns over the impartial enforcement of law across the country and the challenge of transforming an armed movement into a political one.

Martin said, “No peace process has ever moved forward smoothly without setbacks, and it would have been naïve in the extreme to expect that this could be the case in Nepal.  In the discussions which led to the 23-point agreement the parties were frank in acknowledging weaknesses of implementation.  Deadlines set within the process were often unrealistic, and failures to fulfill commitments opened up mistrust between parties.  It has not been easy for a coalition government to take decisions with consensus across seven parties.  A formula has not been found for agreement on re-establishing multiparty local government bodies.”

“It is a major challenge to establish impartial law enforcement across a country which has been torn by conflict.  An armed movement is not instantly transformed into a political party operating according to the norms of a democratic multi-party framework.  And one of the most difficult issues at the end of any armed conflict is how to reach and implement decisions about the future of the combatants,” he added.

“And as if those challenges were not daunting enough, Nepal’s peace process has faced the further challenge of the demand of traditionally marginalised groups that long-standing discrimination should be urgently addressed, and in particular that they must be  fairly represented in the Constituent Assembly which is to shape the future of this highly diverse country, as well as to provide the basis for a government with the broad legitimacy necessary to address the challenges of peace and development,” said Martin stressing the need for the fair inclusion of marginalised groups in the CA polls.

Stressing on the need of social change to go along with political transformation, he said “When these political challenges have presented so many issues requiring short-term management, it is also not easy to maintain the focus on issues of poverty, of service delivery and of long-term development.  These are not UNMIN’s mandate, but they are very much the concern of the UN system as a whole, and I echo all that has been said about the integral relationship between peace and development.  Attention to development is part of the peace process.  A central commitment of the Comprehensive Peace Accord is to adopt a ‘common development concept for economic and social transformation and justice’, as well as to carry out an inclusive democratic and progressive restructuring of the state to address discrimination against marginalized groups.”

He also reiterated UN’s police to only ‘assist’ Nepal in establishing a democratic framework in the country. “The core commitment of the peace process is to provide a democratic framework to address these issues through the election of an inclusive Constituent Assembly, and the core role requested of the United Nations is to ‘assist’ in creating a free, fair climate for that election.  I stress the word ‘assist’, because like everything else in this process success depends on the Nepalese actors themselves, and we are at a critical moment, with the lists of candidates filed yesterday at the same time as important negotiations with Madhesi parties are continuing, and the situation in many parts of the Terai is extremely tense.,” said the UNMIN chief during the meeting.

He also suggested six areas of high priority for the credibility of the upcoming CA polls.

He stressed on the need of a conclusive talks with the agitating Madhesi parties and the need for persuasion of other marginalised groups to go forward with the polls for their concerns to be addressed.

“First, we all hope that the current dialogue with Madhesi parties is successful today or in the very near future, but even if it is, this will by no means be the end of the need for dialogue with marginalized groups, to persuade them despite their reservations that this Constituent Assembly election should go forward and can provide the framework for their concerns to be addressed,” said Martin.

Expressing the dire need for all political parties to respect each other’s election campaigns, he said, “Second, all the parties that are to contest the election should recommit themselves to respect each other’s right to campaign wherever they choose, observing fully this commitment made in successive agreements and required by the Election Code of Conduct.  This can be greatly assisted by independent monitoring, and I urge again the immediate implementation of the commitment to create an independent national monitoring body, which the United Nations will assist with its information.  The government has invited international observers, including the United Nations Electoral Experts Monitoring Team appointed by the Secretary-General: all parties must understand that international observers will speak out against intimidation and irregularities.”

Martin also asked the Seven Party Alliance to work collectively at the national and local level for the management of the peace process. “Third, the Seven-Party Alliance must maintain collective management of the peace process, working together at national and local level, despite the strain which political competition will exert on their cooperation.  They have already formed a High Level Coordination Committee for this purpose, and the Peace Commission is an important further commitment to such collective management.  The formation of new peace process bodies is an opportunity for belated fulfillment of the commitment to include proper representation of women, as well as for a more effective partnership with civil society,” he said.

He pointed out the need for responsible implementation of the commitments to the combatants in the meeting.

Martin said, “Fourth, the commitments in relation to combatants must be implemented responsibly.  The United Nations has long been making preparations to assist with the discharge of minors and others disqualified by UNMIN’s verification:  we urgently need a framework of practical cooperation with the government and the Maoist army for this to be implemented effectively.  It is a fundamental commitment that began with the 12-point Understanding that the two armies must stay out of the electoral process, and UNMIN’s arms monitoring will seek to ensure this.  But those who remain in the cantonments must see that their future is being considered in accordance with the Comprehensive Peace Accord commitments to a special committee for this purpose, recently reconstituted, and to an action plan for democratization of the Nepalese Army.”

Martin said that the fate of the victims of the decade long armed conflict should be publicised.

“Fifth, victims of the armed conflict must not be forgotten amid the electoral preparations, whether they are families whose loved ones were killed or disappeared, or displaced persons whose property should be returned.  I believe that development partners are willing to help fulfill commitments to compensation, but victims require not only compensation but truth about the fate of their loved ones.  And justice for violations of human rights is not only a need of victims, but also of a society which needs to assure future security by ending impunity,’ said the UNMIN chief.

Lastly, martin pointed out the need for public security, not only for the CA polls, but also in the daily lives of the general public.

“Sixth, public security is essential not just for a credible election, but for the people of Nepal to carry on their daily lives and build a better future for themselves and their children.  This requires effective policing, but it is not a task for police alone:  it requires cooperation of all democratic forces at the local level, supporting and not impeding impartial law enforcement as well as promoting service delivery,” he said.

Martin also said that the UN would refrain form assisting a future imposed by undemocratic means and was just ‘assisting’ in the runup to the polls so that it could be conducted in a fair manner. He expressed his support  for the Comprehensive Peace accord and a democratic transition to economic and social change in an inclusive Nepal.