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SC directs for continuous hearing on serious cases

KATHMANDU: With the piling number of cases in the Supreme Court due to insufficient number of Justices and pressure of case load, the Supreme Court has directed authorities to make arrangements for continuous hearing on serious criminal cases in district courts.

Acting upon a Public Interest Litigation filed by Uma Tamang of Maiti Nepal, Sunita Danuwar of Shakti Samuha and Sushma Gautam of Forum for Women, Law and Development, in September 2012, A division bench of Justices Kalyan Shrestha and Baidhyanath Upadhayay ordered the government and authorities concerned to make special provisions to promptly hear and clear cases of ‘serious nature’ such as rape, hostage taking and human trafficking. The apex court said victims of such cases have not been able to get timely and ‘effective’ justice.

The court issued a mandamus order in the name of the Registrar of the Supreme Court to make arrangements for continuous hearing and demand budget for it from the government. It directed the government to provide funds for continuous hearing as per Rule 23(C) (1) of the District Court 1996. “Continuous hearing will help deliver speedy justice to the victims and bring the culprits to book,” the order stated.

Though there is a legal provision that calls for “continuous hearing” on certain cases, it has not been followed as the court administration and the government attorney’s office interpret it as an “optional” provision. The bench also ordered the apex court registrar to form a mechanism in different courts to help facilitate dialogue among different stakeholders in a case, including attorneys of the plaintiff and government attorneys.

The division bench further directed the Monitoring Division of the Supreme Court to keep track of developments in such cases, while also ordering the Ministry of Home Affairs, Nepal Police Headquarters and the OAG to make necessary arrangements to produce witnesses as required by the courts to ensure continuous hearing. The court said rape, domestic violence, trafficking in women, abduction and hostage-taking, arson, cheating and drug peddling deserve continuous hearing.

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