Courts crippled by staff shortages

October 24, 2018 14:10 PM Ananta Raj Luitel


KATHMANDU, Oct 24: The country’s judiciary has been grappling with severe shortage of manpower resulting in delay in justice delivery. 

“We have asked the government to provide 1,339 staffers of various levels, but the government has not acted on the request,” Nagendra Kalakheti, co-spokesperson at the Supreme Court told Republica. 

According to him, the judiciary has been running with the same staffing level of ten years ago, but the workload has doubled.

“We now have additional judicial units such as the Okhaldhunga high court bench, Birgunj high court bench, Rukum and Nawalpur district courts and constitutional bench at the Supreme Court for which additional human resource is direly needed,” Kalakheti added.

Judiciary officials said their workloads have increased also after the enforcement of the Muluki Civil Code, 2017 and Muluki Criminal Code, 2017 but they lack support staff. Courts have not been able to issue the full texts of verdicts even two-three years after handing down the verdicts.

According to officials, there are currently over 100,000 cases at various courts across the country and this is double the workload compared to a decade ago. There are 5,000 staff to support more than 500 judges in the three-tier judiciary.

Two months ago, the Supreme Court had asked the government to approve 1,339 new positions in the judiciary and the request was approved by the Ministry of General Administration, but the cabinet has yet to give its final nod.

“The judiciary never got sufficient manpower,” a judge involved in an O&M survey of the judiciary said. Earlier also, the government ignored the recommendation regarding additional manpower made by the O&M Survey of 2005.

The Supreme Court has asked the government to provide one more secretary-level registrar for itself. Currently, the Supreme Court has one secretary-level registrar, who works as the deputy head of the administration. The Supreme Court’s administration is headed by the chief registrar, whose position is equivalent to the chief secretary of the government.

Hari Bhattarai, secretary of the official trade union at the Supreme Court said the manpower crunch has become so severe that even non-gazetted staffers are drafting judgments. This work was earlier done by under secretaries.

A decade ago, there were 12,000 cases pending at the Supreme Court and 50,000 cases pending at appellate and district Courts, but now the number of pending cases at Supreme Court has reached 24,000 and cases at high courts and districts courts have reached over 100,000, according to court officials.


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