Nepal Government turns a ‘blind eye’ to Supreme Court’s orders to protect fundamental human rights

The Supreme Court of Nepal (Image: Supreme Court Website)

Kathmandu: The world is reeling under the COVID-19 pandemic which has brought numerous otherwise overlooked issues to surface. The government of any country is expected to make extra efforts in easing people’s daily lives during times of crisis. Smooth coordination and communication is one of the key signs of a successful and efficient leadership.

Though scores of petitioners have filed several cases related to public interest at the Supreme Court and successfully gotten a green signal from the apex court in their bid to exert pressure on the government to diligently fulfill its duties, Nepal Government has consistently failed to follow through.

Here’s a list of only a few such cases:

1. On September 4, the Supreme Court asked the government to put women at the centre of COVID-19 response.

The SC ordered the government to ensure women’s inclusive representation in any discussion, mechanism or committee related to COVID management and control.

2. The Supreme Court on September 6 ordered the government to use its fund to rescue Nepali migrant workers, who have been stranded in various countries and are willing to return home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As per the court’s order, the government should use Foreign Employment Fund to repatriate Nepali migrant workers, who went to work abroad on the basis of labour permits issued by the authorised body

3. The Supreme Court on October 4 ordered the government to conduct PCR test of all people who want to undergo the test free of cost.

The apex court observed that COVID-19 was an infectious disease and as per the legal provisions, everybody had the right to get free diagnosis and treatment for the disease.

4. The Supreme Court on October 15 ordered the Public Service Commission not to bar COVID-19 applicants from appearing in PSC examinations.

The apex court observed that if job applicants were barred from appearing in PSC exams, then their right to equality, right against discrimination and right to employment guaranteed by the constitution would be violated.

5. The Supreme Court on September 10 directed the government to immediately release or reduce jail terms of inmates living in vulnerable conditions in various prisons across the country in view of the rising COVID-19 cases in prison.

Stating that overcrowded prisons violate the right to health of the prison inmates, the court ordered authorities to seek alternative ways of penalising those behind bars keeping children, pregnant women, women with newborn children, people with pre-existing health conditions in priority and after considering the nature of crimes committed by the inmates and the risk of reinstating them back in society.

The Supreme Court issued 246 verdicts last fiscal year, to be implemented by various ministries. However, only 15 percent of them–or 38 verdicts—were followed. The implementation rate in the fiscal year 2018-19 was just three percent and it was five percent in the previous fiscal year.