There are people travelling all the way from remote areas of Nepal to the Supreme Court in search of justice. The Supreme Court is the court of last resort. Expecting their cases will be heard soon, they spend months in Kathmandu, the most expensive city in Nepal. Most of the time, their travel bears no fruit. They return to their home disappointed just to make another similar visit the next time in anticipation that their cases will be heard. It is a heart-rending story happening every day to everyone whose cases are not heard and who travel in search of justice to the Supreme Court of Nepal.
It is painful to observe how the Supreme Court works. The cases are listed for the day. Ordinarily, there are about 10 cases listed for each bench. Sometimes, the list has more than 10. The judges never come on time to preside over the cases. Lawyers normally expect them to come 45 minutes to an hour late. This is accepted by all the lawyers, but not the novices. Novice lawyers question the practice in their minds, but do not raise voices against it.
Most of the time, the proceedings of the court are conducted more than an hour late. One case normally takes up the whole day. If the issue is long, sometimes the case goes on till the next day, making the next day's listed cases being postponed for another day. It is rare that there are more than one case heard in a day by a bench.
Judges, after arriving late in the courtroom in the first place, ask the bench officers to brief them about the case. After hearing the arguments of the case for about an hour and half it is time for a tea break. Sometimes, when there are fewer than 15 minutes left, the judges adjourn the hearing for the tea break. Again after tea, they are seated in the bench late. Towards the end of the office hour, judges always are in a hurry to adjourn the hearing. They have multiple untold reasons for it.
Is it being too demanding to expect judges to devote their entire office hours in dispensing justice?
During pleadings there are many lawyers hired by the same parties. Each lawyer argues most of the time repeating the facts and laws already stated by previous lawyer who just happens to finish his arguments before. Most of the time lawyers repeat their own arguments thinking that judges are not convinced or are not concentrating on what they are arguing. There is a lack of systematic pleading in the court.
This happens every day. There is no hearing of most of the cases listed for the day. This makes everyone wonder about the the principle of 'justice delayed is justice denied'. But is anybody answerable to this? Is it so very difficult to practice what we preach? Do these principles carry more meaning in the day to day life?
Is justice accessible to all in these circumstances? Who is accountable for the justice denied because of delay in justice to those who have faith in judiciary? Does not this adversely affect the faith of people coming to seek justice from the Supreme Court of Nepal? Is the lethargy in legal system not a culprit to erode people's faith in justice system of Nepal?
It takes, on an average, 6 years to get the final judgment from the Supreme Court; the parties to the disputes having approached three levels of courts, the District Court, the Appellate Court and the Supreme Court. Sometimes the cases take more number of years.
Shouldn't it matter so many cases come to the Supreme Court and so many cases are pending before it right now? To make the matters worse there are not enough judges appointed to the Supreme Court. By not appointing the judges, aggrieved parties woes are directly aggravated.
Isn't it time to value every minute in the court in the name of justice? Shouldn't every minute be spent in the court for the cause of dispensation of justice to the people? Isn’t it the duty of every officer of the court, the lawyers included, to make efforts toward making justice accessible to innocent parties to the dispute?
Observing the workings of the court for a month has raised so many questions in my mind and before I conform to the system, I wish to tell this unfortunate story of our Supreme Court.