Justice extending to ward levels « Khabarhub
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Justice extending to ward levels


11 December 2020  

Time taken to read : 14 Minute


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RUKUM: Rukum West has six local levels including three municipalities and three village municipalities, and Aatbiskot Municipality is Rukum’s most remote region.

Khalanga, the district headquarters, is a two to three-hour trek from other areas of the district.

From some of the wards of Aatbiskot Municipality, it takes more than one day to reach Khalanga.

Unlike other local levels, there is no road access. However, residents of Aatbiskot do not have to walk all the way to the district headquarters for minor disputes. With the formation of the Judicial Committee, access to justice has reached the people’s doorsteps.

Kamala BiKa (name changed), a resident of Aatbiskot, did not have to walk all the way to the district headquarters for justice. She feels fortunate to get justice from the municipality itself. Her relationship was severed without knocking on the door of the district court in Musikot, the district headquarters.

Tired of being thrashed by her husband under various pretexts, the municipality’s Judicial Committee proved to be supportive for Kamala, who wanted to end the relationship with her husband.

The good news about the formation of the Judicial Committee is that people have been getting justice in their villages giving a sense of feeling that all disputes are settled at the local level.

The Judicial Committee settled the dispute with the consent of the couple. Kamala received justice without spending any money. “I, in fact, had not expected that I would be getting justice in my neighborhood.”

The Judicial Committee at the Triveni Rural Municipality, a local level of Rukum West, settled a dispute related to the transaction with ease.

The Judicial Committee convinced both the disputing parties while settling the dispute. Currently, they have been working together forgetting the bitterness of the past following the decision of the Judicial Committee.

Their relationship has been so cordial that even neighbors are in a dilemma whether they had a dispute before. In fact, the disputing parties did not have to spend their time and money to get justice as their disputes were resolved at the rural municipality office.

The good news about the formation of the Judicial Committee is that people have been getting justice in their villages giving a sense of feeling that all disputes would be settled at the local level.

Article 217 of the Constitution of Nepal has a provision of a three-member Judicial Committee under the coordination of the deputy chief to resolve disputes within its jurisdiction.

After the promulgation of the Local Government Operation Act 2074, judicial committees were formed at the local level.

Article 47, 2 (C) of the Local Government Operation Act 2074 has a provision entrusting the Judicial Committee to settle disputes, over a relationship, including divorce, between husband and wife through reconciliation.

The Judicial Committee can settle 11 types of cases on the basis of conciliation. The Act gives jurisdiction to the Judicial Committee in 13 different cases.

Reconciliation in wards itself

So far, as many as 113 cases have been registered at the Judicial Committee of Musikot Municipality, Rukum West.

Of these, 95 have been settled. Likewise, 14 cases have been registered in the current fiscal year. The Musikot Municipality has set up a mechanism to resolve minor issues and disputes not only at the municipality level but also at the ward level.

According to Prem Kumari Sunar, deputy chief of the municipality and coordinator of the Judicial Committee, they have set up a reconciliation management center at the ward level to resolve issues and disputes in the ward.

“We have set up a ward-level reconciliation management center for the convenience of the citizens so that issues and disputes can be settled in the ward itself,” she said.

Issues and disputes which cannot be resolved at the ward-level reconciliation management centers are sent to the Judicial Committee.

Six hundred issues settled

As many as 596 cases have been settled at all six local levels of Rukum West in the last three fiscal years. So far, 748 cases have been registered at the Judicial Committees at all local levels.

Musikot Municipality has settled a total of 85 cases so far. As many as 113 cases have been registered in the Judicial Committee of Musikot from the fiscal year 2074/75 to the current fiscal year.

After the Soti incident, it has come to everyone’s mind that caste discrimination is rampant in Rukum West. The statistics of the District Police Office Rukum West, however, different. According to the police, the Soti incident is the first such case in Rukum West.

Of the 246 cases registered at the Chaurajahari Municipality, the Judicial Committee settled 214 cases.

In the same period, the Judicial Committee of Aatbiskot has settled 92 out of 155 cases. Ten cases have been recommended to the district court.

During the same period, out of 99 cases registered in the Judicial Committee of Triveni Village Municipality, 74 cases have been resolved.

The Triveni Judicial Committee has recommended 20 cases to the district court. Of the 86 cases registered at the Judicial Committee of Saniveri Municipality, 76 have been addressed.

Challenges

Judicial Committees have been facing several problems even though they seem to be functioning well. Despite the problems, the Judicial Committees are constantly giving justice to the people.

However, Judicial Committees lack amenities such as enough space, and a shortage of staff with legal knowledge. The Judicial Committees also do not have legal advisers because of which the JCs are compelled to deal with all problems themselves.

Manakala Pun, the coordinator of the Banfikot Rural Judicial Committee, says they have been giving justice despite the glitches. According to her, they faced a problem in the process of giving justice due to the lack of proper management of the bench and staffers. In the absence of a bench, she is working from her office.

The Judicial Committee of Triveni Village Municipality has brought a bench into operation recently. Prem Kumari Sunar, the coordinator of the Judicial Committee of Musikot Municipality, said that they have not been able to function as per the rights provided in the act.

With its limited power in place, the Judicial Committee at times undergoes legal complications.

Issues outside the jurisdiction also pop up because of which they face difficulties. According to Sunar, they, however, endeavor to give justice to the people.

Advocate Rachana Malla says the Judicial Committees formed at the local levels have given access to justice at the villages.

Advocate Malla, meanwhile is aware of the problem that the Judicial Committee has been facing due to the limited authority entrusted to them while drafting the Act.

According to her, problems arise as the Judicial Committees were not given the full authority while settling an issue.

Discussion on caste discrimination

The gruesome murder of six youths in Soti, Rukum West, became a national issue about untouchability and discrimination.

Some said that inter-caste marriage was the major reason for the incident. Some said that the incident took place when they came to the village and tried to elope the girl, while some labeled the incident as caste discrimination.

As the incident is in the court process, it is not certain whether there was any racial motive in the incident. However, the country still considers the Soti incident as genocide due to racial reasons.

After the Soti incident, it has come to everyone’s mind that caste discrimination is rampant in Rukum West. The statistics of the District Police Office Rukum West, however, is different. According to the police, the Soti incident is the first such case in Rukum West.

According to Rukum West Police Chief Thag Bahadur KC, despite several incidents related to women and children in the district, incidents of such caste discrimination and untouchability were not reported earlier.

KC says, “According to the statistics, and as far as I know, this is the first case of untouchability in Rukum West.”

Incidents of sexual violence abound

Rukum West Police Chief KC says that incidents of violence and rape against women are high in the district.

While several of these cases are settled in the village, some approach the Judicial Committee or the police.

In one year, the police have settled some 580 vertical complaints related to domestic and gender-based violence. Considering these statistics, it is evident that there is a lot of domestic and gender-based violence in Rukum West.

Tendency of alluring victims with money

According to Bunjhna Pun, chairperson of the inter-party women’s network Rukum West, the practice of alluring victims of incidents related to women and children with money has increased of late. She said incidents of crime such as rape would seem to be under the control of rich and powerful people.

“Such incidents are settled in the village with money. Such cases reach to the police or the court only if they are not settled at the villages,” she said.

She suggested counseling should be given to both men and women in cases of violence against women and other forms of violence in society.

Some cases are settled in the villages. In some cases, the victim is executed under duress or coercion, and in some cases, the victims reach the police.

It is an irony that there are incidents of violence against women from influential people, says Bunjhna.

The inter-party women’s network Rukum West is conducting various activities to give justice to the women and children who have been subjected to violence.

Complaints of violence against women come to the network. There have been 28 incidents of violence against women registered at the network since the coronavirus pandemic started in March this year.

In such cases, the network has been facilitating reconciliation and assisting in further legal proceedings. The network has also made arrangements to provide collective protection to women victims of violence.

Shocking incident

Last May, an incident in Rukum West’s Chaurajahari came to the fore after the brutal massacre of May 23. The genocide, which many see as the story in a movie, was discussed internationally as a barbaric incident due to racial discrimination.

Villagers attacked a youth from Jajarkot on Saturday, May 23, who had come to the village to marry his girlfriend along with his friends. A total of six people were killed in the incident. Nawaraj BK, Ganesh Budha Magar, Sanju BK, Lokendra Sunar, Govinda Shahi of Jajarkot Bheri Municipality and Tikaram Nepali of Rukum West Chaurjahari Municipality were killed in the incident. All the bodies were found in the Bheri river. At least 12 others were injured. Amid fears of coronavirus infection, the incident suddenly came to light.

Rights activists termed the Soti incident a ‘black mark’ on society. The police and the government prosecutor’s office also filed an indictment in the court alleging that the incident was a result of untouchability. Accordingly, 34 people including ward chairman Damber Bahadur Malla have been found to have their involvement in the incident.

After a debate in Rukum West, the district court ordered to send 28 of the 34 accused, including Dambar Bahadur Malla, to jail for trial, to keep two children in a correctional facility for trial, to release one on bail of Rs 100,000 and to release three on a normal date.

Untouchability still prevails

Although the final verdict of the incident is yet to come, untouchability is still prevalent in the villages. Incidents of violence against women and girls are common. Some cases are settled in the villages. In some cases, the victim is executed under duress or coercion, and in some cases, the victims reach the police.

Judicial Committees that have been active at the local levels in recent times have made it easier for victims of such incidents to seek justice. Rights activists say more efforts are still needed to bring justice to the victims.

Publish Date : 11 December 2020 07:08 AM

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