Monday, 18 January, 2021

All Eyes On Judiciary

The judiciary is a vital component of democratic society. One of the three organs of the state, other two being the parliament and government, it basically implements laws, settles legal disputes and punishes law-breakers, enabling the state to ensure justice, peace, order and good governance. Based on the principle of separation of powers, judiciary should function without the fear or favour for the powerful groups or individuals or any vested interest. Citizens look to judiciary to uphold their rights while the government expects correct interpretations of existing laws, and articles and clauses of constitution from it. This requires judiciary to remain independent from the other two branches of state. The very autonomy guarantees its fairness, impartiality and courage to execute laws in line with the spirit of the constitution and aspirations of the people.

Nepal’s constitution, in its preamble, commits to “an independent, impartial and competent judiciary.” Article 20(9) states that, “Every person shall be entitled to a fair hearing from an impartial, independent and competent court or judicial authority.” With the promulgation of the new national charter, Nepal became a federal democratic republic, envisioning drastic socio-economic transformation. Moulding into a new political set-up also means implementing new laws, acts and regulations to make sure that nation achieves social justice, democratic order, enduring peace and happiness of the people. This necessitates the revamping and effective functioning of all three wings – law-making legislature, law-enforcing executive and law-interpreting judiciary. They have heightened role in consolidating new system and fulfilling the soaring public expectations.

Against this backdrop, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said the judiciary should be capable and aware for the effective implementation of laws, which undergoes changes in accordance with new contexts, norms and values of the society. He made this observation while inaugurating a new building of the Office of Attorney General and the 3rd National Conference of Attorneys in the capital the other day. According to the news report of this daily, the PM shed light on the role of judiciary in the implementation of statute while stressing effectiveness in investigation, prosecution and pleading in justice delivery. Other speakers called for broader reforms in judiciary as well as professionalism and capacity development of attorneys to put efficient justice system in place.

The head of executive talked about the competence of judiciary at a time when all eyes are now on the Supreme Court where over a dozen writs have landed, seeking the reversal of the dissolution of the House of Representatives. On Wednesday, a single bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JBR decided to refer all these writs to its Constitutional Bench authorised to interpret the contested issues of the constitution. The bench will start hearing on them from Friday. Now justices and lawyers will be engaged in intense arguments and counter-arguments on the petitions related to Articles 76 (1), (7) and 85 of the constitution. This is perhaps the biggest constitutional and political dispute that the country faced since it embarked on the path of federalism following the three-tier elections in 2017. Now the apex court has to prove its mettle once again, by offering a just verdict on the matter in a way the nation finds a needed outlet from the current political situation. 

How do you feel after reading this news?