Friday, June 21, 2024

Unacceptable interference in judiciary



Independent judiciary plays an important role in democratic dispensation. The Constitution has also accepted this reality. Part 11 of the Constitution provides for judiciary. Separation of powers ensures that there would be no pressure and influence on justice delivery.

The Supreme Court of Nepal has formed a four-member committee under the coordination of Justice Hari Krishna Karki on 23 May to study avenues to keep I/NGOs away from judiciary. The Committee is expected to submit a report incorporating suggestions within 20 July.

RoLHR programme conducted by foreign organisations through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) ended in December 2017. It had been providing aid for training, study visits and protection of human rights. But service seekers and advocates of clean judiciary have been feeling that donors exert undue influence on judiciary. Therefore raising of voices was mandatory. The reactions expressed during lawyers' conference in Nepalgunj need to be appreciated in this context.

UNDP is a UN agency but it does not have independent financial resources. It collects resources from different countries to carry out different projects in Nepal. While implementing these projects, donors have been forcing to execute activities that go contrary to Nepal's religious and social values and norms. There are also instances of donors unnecessarily inciting Tibetan issues to muddy Nepal's relationship with China.

Multiple stories in the press have shown that agents of foreign organisations have been alluring top officials of the highest level of judiciary with special allowances and foreign junkets in order of influence them to prepare laws that reflect controversial norms and values, policies and licentiousness in the western world. Sadly, human rights activists and women right activists have gone with this flow. Its consequences will ultimately not be beneficial.

Government officers and consultants should immediately put a brake on activities that are oriented towards donors' interests rather than Nepal's social circumstances and foreign policy. Failing to do that, they should be subjected to punishment for working against the country. The currently formed committee in the Supreme Court needs to submit a report recommending immediate halt to foreign aid that impacts the judiciary. Frankly speaking, there was no need to form a committee for this purpose. The conclusion is clear. Absolutely no foreign aid should be taken in direct agreement with foreign agency if we are to keep people's faith and belief in the judiciary. It is inappropriate to forward donors' proposals without coordinating with Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The annual budget of the government should manage all resources needed for the functioning of judiciary including the Supreme Court. There should be a provision of increment in budget allocation in consideration of price inflation. It is mandatory to end the situation in which justices have to beg for necessary budget for the judiciary. Otherwise, the executive will have negative impact on judiciary.

Any aid in cash and kind offered by donor countries and foreign organisations need to arrive through government channels. A strong policy of depositing such aid money in a consolidated fund and spending it on the basis of priorities set by the government needs to be implemented. It would be harmful for the country to chase after priorities set by the donors.