Over the past 25 years, Nepal’s court system has passed many verdicts, but a followup study of 213 decisions ordering various government ministries and agencies for action were blatantly ignored and never implemented.
Of those, 92 were issued to the Home Ministry which took no action on the orders. This investigation used the right to information provisions to take a closer look at court documents on 33 of the cases categorised by the Judicial Execution Directorate (JED) and found many examples of the government paying no attention at all to the Supreme Court decisions.
Article 126 (2) of the Constitution states: ‘All shall abide by the orders or decisions made in the course of trial of lawsuits by the courts.’ But the documents with official exchanges between the courts and government agencies showed that the decisions were consistently and blatantly ignored.
In 2010, advocate Jang Bahadur Singh of Saptari registered a writ petition at the Supreme Court (SC) against the Office of Prime Minister (PMO) and the Home Ministry demanding that reproductive rights of prison inmates be ensured. On 1 April, 2011 the apex court ordered the authorities to arrange a separate maternity room so female inmates or wives of male inmates could give birth.
The court ordered the formation of a three-member study team headed by the head of the Prison Management Department within six months, and the PMO instructed the Home Minister to execute the order. But it took the ministry four years to even form the study team, even through the court wrote two letters to the ministry inquiring about the status without any response.
In 2017, the ministry finally passed buck to the Nepal Law Commission, and nine years later the ministry legal department said it was ‘in the process of implementing’ the SC order.