Political move cannot correct verdict: LawyersThe UCPN (Maoist), along with its five splinters, took out a rally on Monday demanding nullification of a recent verdict of the SC that curbs the jurisdiction of the transitional justice
However, the Maoist demand is unrealistic as lawyers say there is no precedent of annulment of a court verdict. Because the verdict was not issued in the name of the former rebels, they cannot even appeal for judicial review. The court could register a petition from the government for a review of the verdict.
Addressing a gathering at Shanti Batika in the Capital, Maoist leaders warned of abandoning the peace process and reviving the disbanded People’s Liberation Army.
Responding to an appeal filed by 234 conflict victims in June last year, the apex court on February 26 annulled the amnesty provision of the transitional justice Act, saying that it is against the established principles of justice, constitutional provisions, international law and the court’s earlier verdicts.
The apex court also curtailed the discretionary powers of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons to grant amnesty, which earlier could recommend amnesty to rights violators if deemed reasonable for it. The SC also ruled out the transfer of conflict-era cases from courts to the commissions.
“The Maoist parties are trying to make it look like a political issue,” said Sunil Pokharel, general secretary of Nepal Bar Association. “By demanding amnesty for rights violators, they are defending ones who they fought during the conflict.”
Pokharel argued that the recent verdict is reiteration of the SC’s January 2 order.
He said Parliament could amend the Act if it finds flaws in the verdict.
He argued that the court’s stance on transfer of sub-judice cases to the commissions is impractical as a judicial body cannot hand over its cases to a quasi-judicial body.
Lawyers say a court verdict is never annulled. They said the Maoist alliance could be right on claiming the verdict to be against the Comprehensive Peace Accord and the Interim Constitution when it comes to dealing with conflict-era cases but its demand to repeal the verdict has no point.
“There is no instance of annulment of a court verdict in judicial history so far,” said Advocate Satish Raj Mainali. He, however, argued that the court should have defined what amounts to serious human rights violation. The Act enlists nine acts, including capture of private property, displacement and causing deformities as serious cases of rights violation.
International law categorises torture, abduction and disappearance, murder, rape and crime against humanity as serious rights violations.
“The verdict seems to have ignored the notion of transitional justice and viewed it only from the perspective of criminal justice system, which is likely to deprive the victims of justice,” said Mainali.
According to him, criminal justice system is perpetrator-centric, in which one gets acquitted in the absence of evidence but the transitional justice system envisions truth, reparation and commitment for non-recurrence of the incident besides justice.
“Nobody seems to care about victims,” said Suman Adhikari, chairperson of the Conflict Victims’ Common Platform.
He argued that the debate on the transitional justice process revolves around either political or legal fronts. “It’s up to the victims to decide what kind of justice they want,” he said.
The victims have been excluded from the transitional justice process. The platform has publicly asked the newly formed commissions to create environment for dialogue and cooperation from the victims’ community.