KATHMANDU, Sept 11: Chief Justice (CJ) Cholendra SJB Rana has insisted on increasing the number of justices and judges at all three tiers of the judiciary, given the load of cases at the courts.
Stating that the workload has increased at the Supreme, High and District courts mainly due to the backlog of cases, Rana said that there is no option to increasing the positions of justices and judges at the courts at the earliest. During an interaction with the official trade union of SC employees and staffers at his office, Rana insisted that he has already informed the government about the need of additional justices at the various courts.
“We have requested the government to increase the posts of judges at the high courts and increasing the number of judges at the district courts is not a big deal,” chairperson of the trade union Prakash Parajuli quoted Rana as saying.
Article 129 of the Constitution states that there should be 21 justices, including the Chief Justice, at the Supreme Court. Rana informed the staffers that consultations have been held with the
government for amending the constitution for the cause.
There are 160 judges at the seven high courts including extended benches and 240 at the various district courts.
Out of the total 14,223 cases registered, the SC settled just 10,203 cases in the last fiscal year while 23,507 cases remain pending at the court. The SC has been piling pressure on the government for doubling the number of justices at the apex court immediately after Rana was appointed the CJ. “Consultations have been held about amending the constitution for the cause,” Rana told his staffers during the meeting.
Court staffers suggested to CJ Rana to add the positions of additional 20 justices at the apex court. Out of 21 justices at the SC, five also need to oversee the cases at the constitutional bench as well.
Staffers at the SC had also drawn the attention of the head of the judiciary toward public criticism of the courts for anomalies and controversial decisions. According to the participants of the meeting, Rana listened to the complaints of the employees at the SC for nearly two hours on Tuesday.
Responding to the concerns about the recent court decision on Ncell capital gains tax (CGT) related case, Rana said he too is concerned about the controversies. “But there is no meaning to criticize the court without going through the full text of the verdict,” he added. The full text of the court verdict is yet to get readied.
A decision of the SC to invalidate the assessment of the CGT to be paid by the telecommunication company Ncell has courted controversy as former justices and legal experts have questioned the decision. The Large Taxpayers Office on April 16 had determined that the company had to pay Rs 39 billion as CGT including the accrued interest and fines for its transfer of ownership a few years ago.