KATHMANDU, March 21: Adopting 23-point special measures, the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday took serious decisions in order to fight the possible spread of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nepal.
A full court meeting of SC justices presided over by Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana on Friday took the decision to adopt special measures to fight against the possible spread of the deadly virus whose outbreak started a few months ago from China and has been spreading across the world.
Under these special measures, the courts across the country will suspend their regular service for two weeks starting Sunday and will give special consideration to the release of convicts serving less than one-year jail sentence and the minor convicts.
The meeting decided to suspend the regular hearings of cases in the courts across the country -- Supreme Court, high courts, district courts and tribunals — but to continue emergency services such as the habeas corpus writs hearing and granting judicial remands to arrest accused in relations to various offenses.
The courts will entertain habeas corpus petitions as well as the petitions relating to deductions of numbers of inmates from the prisons if they are to be released according to the existing laws. Those convicts may enjoy such favors according to Section 155 of Muluki Civil Procedure Code, 2017. "The concerned judge's bench may give such favor if deemed suitable on the request," the order stated.
Underling that it received request from the Office of the Attorney General as well as the government of Nepal, the Supreme Court decided to give special considerations to release the convicts serving less than one year jail terms and the minor convicts by converting their sentence into cash and those juveniles serving jail terms in order to cut off the numbers of inmates in the prisons.
The full court meeting took the decision that the courts will remain open to continue their internal works with the attendance of specific number of staffers.
Those who need to attend the court in relation to their cases need to attend within 10 days after when the courts will resume regular services as their court presence date would automatically extend.
According to the decision, the minor convicts serving sentences may be allowed to go home under the guarantee of their parents but they need to appear at the courts when the courts ask them to rejoin for completing the jail sentence.
The apex court has also requested the Nepal Bar Association to send only a few number of lawyers to the court even during the hearings of emergency cases.
The meeting also decided that seminars, meetings and other assemblies need to be conducted according to the five-year strategic planning of the judiciary will be suspended till April 11. Those service seekers suffering from fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose or breathing difficulty will not get entry into the courts but will be advised to go for a medical check-up. The court will arrange for alcohol-based sanitizer sfor judges, staffers, lawyers before entering the courts.
The meeting also decided to curb mass gatherings on court premises, canteens and urged everyone to maintain hygiene and increase public awareness programs against the coronavirus. The decision states: "Distance shall be maintained between the individuals on court premises and everyone will undergo a fever test compulsorily before being allowed to enter the courts. If any service seeker has any symptom of the coronavirus disease, then his or her relatives need to inform the court administration."