After the retirement of Justice Damodar Sharma, Ram Kumar Shah took charge as the new Chief Justice of Nepal. After hearing Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee (PHSC) endorsed his name last week.
A meeting of Constitutional Council (CC) headed by Prime Minister on September 12 had picked Shah for the position from among five eligible justices at the apex court on the basis of seniority.
Chief justice Shah, who was appointed Supreme Court justice in 2005, took the position after incumbent CJ Damodar Prasad Sharma's tenure expires on October 9.
Although Shah assumed the position of chief justice, he has many upheavals task ahead to protect the sanctity of judiciary which is under growing threat from some of his own populist colleagues in the bench and lawyers at the bar.
From religion to electoral process, some of his judges are intervening in every parts of life. There are feelings among the people that the judgments are delivered on the basis of personal grudges and populism particularly cases related to corruption.
Born on July 8, 1950, Shah joined Judicial Service as Section Officer in 1974 and was appointed district judge in 1976. He served as district judge till 1986. He was district government attorney, Kathmandu, from September 7, 1979, to February 16, 1981.
"My foremost duty will to uphold independent and sanctity of judiciary and protect the rights of the people by delivering justice," said newly-appointed Chief Justice Shah. "I will not compromise on an independent judiciary," told media persons, assuming office after taking the oath. "Independent and impartial judiciary is the back bone of democracy."
Along with other Chief justice Shah promised to change the court by introducing latest information and technology to reduce use of paper in the courts. The new Chief Justice said that the case management system would be modernized, cases related to serious crimes like rape and human trafficking would be finalized within three months through regular hearing.
According to him, the due date would be made optional and it would be informed to the parties through mobile phone and e-mail and they could respond their due date through these technologies from their respective places where they are.
Like all his predecessors, Chief Justice Shah also said that free of cost judiciary services would be provided to the poor and needy people and the code of conduct for judges and court employees would be strictly monitored while making arrangements for observing the court procedure by means of close circuit (CC) TV.
As Shah is seasoned justice of Supreme Court, he will avoid populism taking decision to protect the rights of the people. At a time when judiciary is under a shadow of populism, chief justice Shah's contribution will be to bring the judiciary in judicial track.