A Year in the Administration of Justice: Courts on the Rhythm of Rapid Trials

A Year in the Administration of Justice: Courts on the Rhythm of Rapid Trials

Kathmandu- The Supreme Court has speeded up the disposal of cases to reduce the number of cases that have exceeded five years to zero by the end of the current financial year. As the number of cases exceeding five years has increased, the number of cases has increased after the implementation of the ‘Pending Old Arrears Action Plan, 2079’ to reduce the cases from 1st July 2079.

“To dispose of the old and new cases in the court quickly, work is being done in extra time, sitting off the bench on time”, said Bhadrakali Pokharel, the spokesperson of the Supreme Court. While there is a constitutional system of 21 judges including the Chief Justice in the Supreme Court, currently there are 20 judges including the Chief Justice.

According to the goal of the fourth five-year strategic plan of the Judiciary, then Chief Justice Harikrishna Karki formed a committee under the coordination of Judge Teel Prasad Shrestha to quickly dispose of the old cases. The then Deputy Attorney General Padam Prasad Pandey, President of Nepal Bar Association Gopalkrishna Ghimire, and then President of the Supreme Bar Association Purnaman Shakya were the members of the committee and implemented the action plan.

In the action plan, it was mentioned that the sitting of the bench should be at 11 o’clock at the appointed time and the practice of sitting for the whole time should be adopted and the relevant government lawyers and legal practitioners should also be present at the sitting at the appointed time. According to the action plan, work is still going on in the Supreme Court, High Court, and District Court.

After the implementation of the action plan, a historic success was achieved in the settlement of the case. After the implementation of the action plan, 12 thousand one hundred and 52 cases exceeding five years were dismissed. During the tenure of the then Chief Justice Karki, in a short period, 17-year-old cases were reduced to 13-year-old cases in the financial year 2063/64.

According to the action plan to quickly dispose of old cases in the Supreme Court, when judges were vacant from the Supreme Court to the High and District Courts, the cases could not be disposed of as expected. Currently, 77 judges have been appointed in the Supreme Court, High Court, and District Court. That manpower will help in solving the case.

In recent times, 77 new judges have been appointed out of the vacant judge posts, six in the Supreme Court, six in the High Court, 27 in the High Court, and 38 in the District Judge.

“The court has given full attention to the case of Farchyot”, said Bimal Paudel, associate registrar of the Supreme Court, “the court is playing an effective role in promoting the rule of law and protecting the rights of citizens.”

Looking at the record of cases in the Supreme Court up to Sunday, January 8, 2080, the total number of cases transferred is 28,141, and 5,373 cases have been transferred this year, making it 33,514. Of them, 5,389 cases have been dismissed and 28,125 cases are pending in the Supreme Court.

Out of the total of 5,570 cases that have exceeded five years, 1,213 have been dismissed and the remaining 4,357 cases are pending. Similarly, there are 17 thousand two hundred 17 cases that have exceeded two years, and 2 thousand three hundred three cases have been dismissed and 15 thousand 14 months remain.

The maximum number of appeals in the Supreme Court is 19 thousand eight hundred 23, of which 1 thousand six hundred 22 have been rejected and 18 thousand two hundred one are left. The lowest number of writ petitions for direct arrest is 225, 186 have been dismissed and 29 are left. 29 thousand 145 cases are pending in the High Court and 121 thousand 951 cases pending in the District Court. To make case disposal fast, transparent, and fair, the system was developed to be determined by the Pesi Gola process determined by the Chief Justice.

Specimen determined by the sphere process

In the history of the court, the Chief Justice has ended the system of determining the cases for every judge, and since the 15th of November 2078, the pesi has been determined through the Gola process. The Gola process was initiated in the process of assigning cases to the bench as per the wishes of the Chief Justice, hoping to end the trend of assigning cases to the bench and to reduce distortions such as middlemen and corruption.

The committee chaired by the then judge Harikrishna Karki reported with suggestions to set the pesi through automation (automatic system) for court reform. According to the same report, the pesi has been assigned through the Gola process. According to the practice done in the Supreme Court at the beginning, now there is a provision that the pesi is fixed through the Gola process in the High Court and in the district as well. This is considered an important step for judicial governance.

Automatic hearing Dates in Supreme and High Courts

For judicial governance, an automatic payee data management system has been started in the Supreme Court and the High Court. The system was implemented in the Supreme Court on August 11. This has been implemented in the High Court since January 8. The court said that it is studying to implement the said system in the district court as well.

It is believed that when the court is completely made technology guided, the service users will be able to work easily, and the adoption of this system will help to increase the quality, transparency, and trust in the service.

‘Virtual’ hearings in six high courts including the Supreme Court

During the epidemic of Covid-19, virtual hearings were started in the Supreme Court from all over the country. At present, hearings have been started in six high courts using this technology. The hearing of the case through audio-visual has been started in the High Courts of Dipayal, Ilam, Jumla, Mahendranagar, Dhankuta, and Hetauda. Chief Justice Vishwambhar Prasad Shrestha has expressed the intention to start the trial to save time, making it less costly, and giving the public have access to justice when the case is heard through virtual means.

38 lakh cases are being ‘digitalised’

There are 3.8 million case files in the courts across the country. The work of scanning the said case from the concerned district and keeping it in digitalization technology has already started. In terms of information technology, Gaurinath Koirala, Information Technology Manager of the Information Technology Division, said that the missile digitization process in the court archives has already started.

“Now, around 90,000 scans have been done in the district and high courts across the country, the work is being done by the record branch from district to district”, he said. The issue can be viewed from anywhere.”

At present, the case of the district has to be decided by the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court has to wait. The missile of the case can be viewed from anywhere with this technology. The Information Technology Branch is working to provide technical support.

Initiatives to expand access to justice

The court is working by establishing a separate commission to provide access to justice to the consumers of justice. The Access to Justice Commission in the Supreme Court is working to coordinate local-level judicial committees and other concerned bodies to increase access to justice.

Training of the human resources working in the judicial body regarding the behavior to be done with the customers, arrangement of providing information about the services provided by the court through television display in the court premises, CV display has been started in the Supreme Court premises.

The information and assistance room in the Supreme Court is being organized. Also, an information booklet on the work of the local judicial committee, 2080, has been prepared and published.

Implementation of penal corrective measures

The Attorney General’s Office has implemented the Probation and Parole Policy, 2080 under the reformative implementation of punishment to improve prosecution and investigation. Check bounce cases, commercial and cybercrime cases are done only in Kathmandu District Court, but now all district courts are going to do it. In the Guidelines on Requests for Exemption from Punishment – 2080, the provision of exemption for those who speak the truth has also been implemented and an arrangement has been made to decide soon.

“Laws related to probation, parole, exemption from punishment for those who tell the truth have been implemented”, Deputy Attorney General Sanjeevraj Regmi said, “It is important that cases related to banking crimes and cyber crimes are handled by the district court.”

The guidelines for the implementation of the criteria for placing prisoners on probation and parole, 2080, and the guidelines for requests for exemption from punishment, 2080 have been implemented since the 28th of Baisakh. Similarly, the Guidelines on Advocacy and Defense, 2079 have been implemented. The said guideline has been implemented since Chait 23, 2079.

The Nepal Bar Association and concerned bodies have emphasized the need to implement the report of the then judge Harikrishna Karki to make the court free from corruption and middlemen to speed up the disposal of cases to provide judicial governance and access to justice for the clients.