What ails the Criminal Justice System in Nepal? by Kamal Raj Sigdel and Baburam Kharel

Criminal justice system full of holes
The Kathmandu Post, May 15
KATHMANDU, May 14 - Innumerable loopholes that riddle the criminal justice system have allowed criminals to walk scot-free. Reason: Under-performance of key criminal justice system institutions -- police, government attorneys and the judiciary -- with their serious limitations and drawbacks.

Lack of coordination between government attorneys and police, loopholes in existing criminal laws, lack of specialised investigation police teams, weak prosecution and an ambiguous judiciary have im-paired criminal justice delivery, say legal experts.

If statistics are anything to go by, the dismal success rate of criminal cases speaks for itself. The go-vernment on an average has been losing one-third of the total number of cases it has filed.

In fiscal year 2006/07, of a total of 28,093 cases including criminal ones, the government lost one third of them. The moot point is: When public prosecutors lose criminal cases the main offenders walk free.
A case in point is that of murder-accused gangster Raju Gor-khali, who had been on the run for the last six years until recently. On Jan. 30, Kathmandu District Court released Gorkhali on bail without verifying the documents provided by the accused to prove his innocence.

The release shocked the police administration as the court did not inform that the most wanted on the police list had been freed. After widespread criticism, the case has again come under the scrutiny of the Chief Justice.
A recent report of the Office of Attorney General concedes that a number of loopholes -- such as obsolete laws, lack of proper trai-ning for government attorneys and others -- have hindered the judi-ciary from performing effectively.

For instance, the entire criminal justice system today runs on the foundation of the Muluki Ain, formulated more than four decades ago. “The old laws have largely hindered criminal justice,” concedes Joint Government Attor-ney Thok Prasad Shivakoti. “A separate and effective criminal law is a must.”
However, authorities are enga-ged in the blame-game. Some senior police officers blame government attorneys for failure to prosecute, either because of graft or unprofessionalism.

On the other hand, government prosecutors grumble at arrests made without following legal procedure, leading to weak prosecution. And both concur when it comes to pointing the finger at the judiciary.
In some cases, the accused have been freed despite concrete evidence against them, says Super-intendent of Police Nawa Raj Silwal, chief of Metropolitan Police Range, Kathmandu.

Silwal also admits there are li-mitations. Police lack specialised human resources and infrastructure to make a strong, foolproof case.

Mostly, police investigations are based on individual interrogation. “The problem with this method is that the testimony of the accused at the court often contradicts their confession to police during interrogation when in custody.”

The judiciary, on the other hand, suffers from lack of effective and scientific human resources and case management systems. Lack of specialised benches to deal with criminal cases, says an attorney, is the main reason behind dubious and questionable verdicts. Posted on: 2009-05-14 20:48:35 (Server Time)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Only genuine comments please!

Most Popular Posts