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Independence of judiciary is crucial for effective and successful democratic governance. Under the provisions of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, the judicial institutions are independent. The courts are free from the influence of Executive and Legislature. Despite of these good provisions in the constitution, the judiciary is facing several problems which have affected the ability of the courts to dispense justice in a speedy, cost effective and credible manner.
There is a growing concern among the common people that court processes take a long time in providing justice. Inordinate delay in the operation of the justice system can reduce the credibility of the state. The court process is expensive which makes it difficult for the poor people to get justice. Similarly, courts are not accessible to the poor for various reasons.
Brief Project DescriptionReform of the Judiciary is a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and UNDP. Initially the Programme was divided into two major components when it started in 2002 -(1) Rule of Law (ROL) and (2) Reform of Judiciary (ROJ). The ROL programme was launched in partnership with the Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs (MoLJPA). ROL supported the Ministry to build the capacity in drafting laws, developing negotiation skills and reporting skills to meet the reporting obligation that Nepal has to fulfill to various international instruments to which it is signatory to. This component has been merged with the reform of the judiciary programme from January 2006.
ROJ aims to;
1. Enhance transparency, accountability and competency in judicial system through reform of substantive and procedural laws, training of judges and court staff.
2. Strengthen the cpacity of the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to draft appropriate treaties and legislation.
3. Improve citizen’s access to justice particularly of the poor and disadvantaged through enhancing conflict mediation capabilities at the village and municipal levels to settle minor disputes in accordance with the provisions of the Local Self Governance Act 1999.
The ROJ Programme has launched the concept of ‘Pilot Court’ in selected seven districts (Kaski, Kapilvastu, Chitwan, Siraha (2004), Banke, Morang (2004) and Kathmandu (2005) in a phase wise manner. This process started in 2003 which is continuing and which has helped in enhancing transparency, accountability and competency in judicial system through reform of substantive and procedural laws, training of judges and court staff.
A study was carried out that reviewed 16 international treaties/conventions and more than 70 Nepalese legislations. The report has suggested that 37 laws of Nepal need to be amended to make them compatible with the international instruments. The report is expected to be finalized and printed early next year (2008). The report has reviewed decisions of the Supreme Court relating to human rights issues.
Likewise, a study was carried out in order to identify Nepal’s obligations relating to environmental protection that Nepal has signed, acceded and ratified. The study reviewed 23 international treaties/conventions and more than 108 Nepalese laws (Acts and Rules). The report is expected to be finalized and printed in 2008.
Special trainings on “Legislative and Treaty Drafting” were organized for 117 officials of the MOLJPA, out of which 44 attended the training programme conducted by the University of Philippines in Manila. The two training programme conducted in Kathmandu also included resource persons from Singapore and India.
A preliminary survey conducted to assess the effectiveness of the pilot courts reflects that the pilot have been working effectively. It also reflects that the courts in an average have been deciding criminal cases in 126 days whereas it used to take 180 days before the pilot court started.
Various training programs on issues such as land survey, forensic science have been conducted to acquaint court staff / judges on specific issues. Fellowship was also given to judicial staff in specialized legal areas.
Penal Code and Criminal Procedure Code have been drafted and finalized in consultation with the stakeholders to be tabled in the parliament.
Civil Code has been drafted and discussions are underway with the stakeholders. Civil Procedure Code is being finalized soon.
Each pilot court has prepared its Calendar of Operation for swift working of the management system. The courts have been able to deliver 67% of the cases registered with them since they started working as pilot courts, which was less than 49% before the pilot courts came into operation. Likewise, the number of cases that exceeded two years has decreased to a considerable extent.
Training of judges /court staff on specific areas such as information technology is continuing. Similarly archiving of court documents is completing. An effort is also being made to develop networking system within the courts. A significant number of court staff are trained in applying computer software packages for court business.
|Start/Completion Dates:||December 2000- October 2007|
|Location:||Pilot Courts in Siraha, Chitwan, Kapivastu, Kaski, Morang and Banke districts and community mediation training in Dhankutta, Kaski, Bardiya, Jumla, Dhanusha and Rupandehi districts.|
|ACC Sector:*||Governance Development|
|ACC Sub-sector:||Strategies and Policies|
|Primary areas of focus/sub-focus:||Promoting Sound Governance/Decentralization and strengthening of local governance|
|Executing Agency:||Supreme Court, Nepal|
|Implementing Agent:||Ministry of Finance|
|UNDP Contribution:||US$ 901,838|
|Government Cost-Sharing:||(in kind)|
|Third-party (NGO) cost-sharing:||Government of Finland has contributed US$ 152313 and Japan Human Resources Development Fund (JHRDF) US$ 685,000.|
|UNDP Focal Point
Mr. Sharad Neupane
Democratic Governance Unit
UN House, Pulchowk, P.O.Box 107 Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977-1- 552 3200
Fax: 977-1-552 3991
Dr. Ram K. Timalsena
National Programme Director
Reform of Judiciary (NEP/00/012) Anamnagar P.O. Box 107 Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977-1-771197, 770609, 771004