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Chances of fair trial diminishing, says Nepal rights body chief
Publication Date : 25-01-2013
Chairman of Nepal’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has warned that chances of a fair trial in the country are decreasing given the fast retirement of justices from the Supreme Court (SC).
Kedar Nath Upadhyay's remarks came at a time when the apex court is left with only six justices from this week onwards when there are quotas for 24 justices—13 permanent and 11 temporary.
“The government has not even considered setting up the infrastructure for a fair trial, let alone provide legal assistance for those who cannot afford it,” said Upadhyay.
The government has failed to appoint justices to the vacant SC posts, even as sitting justices are retiring one after another.
With the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, there were legal constraints to appointing new justices caused by the provision that they should be endorsed through a special parliamentary hearing.
Unveiling a research book on fair trial s, jointly published by the National Judicial Academy and the Informal Sector Service Centre (Insec) in the Capital yesterday, Upadhyay underscored the need to ensure a fair trial for everyone at the courts.
“The accused have the right to know the charges filed against them before they are tried in a court,” he said.
In practice, police often force the accused to admit their offence before they are even taken to the court.
“The situation is worse when quasi-judicial authorities are given the right to hand out sentences to the accused for up to 15 years using their discretion,” said Raghab Lal Baidhya, executive director of the Academy.
Despite the SC's recommendation for orientation and training programmes for officials at such authorities last year, the government has done nothing in this regard.
Tika Ram Bhattarai, lawyer and newly elected vice-president of Nepal Bar Association, said that fair trials do not exist in the country.
“Police make arrests without warrants and intimidate during interrogation but there is no mechanism to monitor their activities,” he said.
The book discusses international laws, precedents and fair trial practices in comparison with the existing national legal provisions.