EDITORIAL – Lottery system – The Himalayan Times – Nepal’s No.1 English Daily Newspaper

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For the first time in the country’s judicial history, the Supreme Court is going to implement the lottery system, or the automated cause list system, from today in hearing of cases, ending the age-old monopoly or privilege enjoyed by the sitting Chief Justice. As recommended by the apex court Justice Hari Krishna Karki-led panel, the full court of the apex court decided to follow the lottery system in choosing the bench for hearing of cases. The Karki-led panel had hoped that the automated cause list system would bring an end to the existing “bench shopping” culture, in which middlemen could easily influence the sitting justices to create a verdict in favour of their clients.

With the lottery system coming into force, no middlemen or influential senior lawyers who have forged an alliance among themselves to influence the verdict in favour of their clients will be able to manipulate the verdict. The decision to implement the automated cause list system, which is done on a daily basis, was made by the full court in the absence of CJ Cholendra Shumsher Rana, who has been accused of seeking a ministerial berth for his brotherin-law in the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led coalition government that was formed on July 12 following the mandamus order of the Supreme Court.

But issuing a press statement on Tuesday, Nepal Bar Association (NBA), which is in agitation over CJ Rana’s involvement in power-sharing in the government, warned him against drawing lotteries and forming his own bench. The lawyers’ body has also warned other apex court justices against sharing the bench with the CJ, who is now hospitalised after testing positive for COVID-19.

The NBA has also demanded that the SC amend the regulations of the high courts, district courts and Special Courts so that the lottery-based cause list can be implemented in these courts as well.

The NBA has said it will continue its agitation in the lower courts until the regulations are amended to ensure the lottery-based cause list system. While the lawyers’ umbrella body has said it would continue representing their clients in the courts from today, their protest against the CJ would continue.

Nepal’s judiciary has been marred by one controversy after another because of bench shopping. Justices are delivered not based on evidence and truth, but based on the influence of clients and senior lawyers who have forged an alliance called “steering committee” where even the justices are included.

The justice system cannot be made independent, free, fair and impartial as long as the existing appointment system is not amended through the amendment of the constitution. The parliamentary hearing system, which was introduced in the constitution in good faith, has stopped functioning as the justices are chosen by the major political parties in power based on their political affiliation. There has been a call for making an amendment to the constitution to make the judiciary truly independent. To make it independent, the selection process should also be impartial and free from political interference.

This time around, the lawyers’ agitation has led the judiciary in the right direction by compelling the apex court to follow the automated cause list system.

HIV/AIDS infection

As Nepal marked World AIDS Day on Wednesday, it was heartening to note that the infection rate of HIV/AIDS has gradually decreased in the country.

According to the National Centre for AIDS and STD Control, the infection rate of HIV/AIDS had decreased by 63 per cent in the last one decade. In 2010, a total of 2,061 new cases were detected, which came down to 754 this year. Similarly, the fatality rate has also got reduced drastically during the period. HIV/ AIDS was greatly dreaded in the eighties when the disease first made its appearance worldwide, including Nepal. By now, people have a better understanding of how the virus is transmitted, and many of the myths surrounding the disease have been broken, although the stigma attached to it is still there.

There is no cure for HIV/AIDS, although anti-retroviral drugs help keep HIV under control, allowing patients to live long and healthy lives. Thus prevention is the key to keeping the disease at bay. Most of the HIV infections in Nepal have been attributed to unprotected sex with a HIV-positive partner and needle sharing among drug abusers. Thus using a condom and not abusing drugs will largely keep one safe from HIV/AIDS.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 2, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.

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