Slim chance of Supreme Court reviewing its 2015 ruling on transitional justice, a top court official saysThe landmark verdict struck down a dozen provisions, directing government to provide no amnesty for perpetrators of serious human rights violations
The Supreme Court is unlikely to review a petition filed by the government against its 2015 landmark verdict which pointed out several flaws in the existing transitional justice Act.
Victims of the decade-long Maoist insurgency are in a dilemma as the court has delayed a hearing on the review petition filed four years ago.
Top officials at the court say since the 2015 verdict was issued by a bench led by then chief justice Kalyan Shrestha after a rigorous study of international practices and the principle of transitional justice, there is “no room” for a revision to the ruling.
“The apex court sees no room for a review as demanded by the government,” a senior official at the court told the Post on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to discuss the sub judice case with media.
In February 2015, the apex court issued a landmark ruling ordering the government to revise the Enforced Disappearances Enquiry, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act-2014. The court had ruled that the law failed to adhere to the principles of transitional justice and international practices. The five-member special bench led by Shrestha had issued the verdict in response to a writ filed by a group of 234 conflict victims.
It struck down almost a dozen provisions in the Act and directed the government to ensure that no amnesty is awarded in cases of serious human rights violations committed during the decade-long insurgency.
But in April that year, the government led by Sushil Koirala filed a review petition, challenging the ruling. Then chief secretary Leela Mani Paudyal had filed the petition through the Office of the Attorney General arguing that the government deemed a revision to the ruling necessary.
The court’s date for the petition has been postponed 22 times so far with the apex court still not taking any decision whether or not to start a hearing on the matter.
“I believe it won’t be delayed further,” said the official, adding that the next date would be fixed soon.
As it is a review petition against a verdict passed by a special bench, only a five-member bench can take a decision on the matter.
The official said chances of even a hearing on the petition are slim.
The conflict victims say the apex court should stop deferring the hearing and take a decision without further delay.
“We are worried due to the continuous postponements. It must be decided soon,” Gopal Shah, vice-chairperson of the Conflict Victims National Network, told the Post.
The victims’ communities have been demanding that the government withdraw the petition and amend the Act as per the court’s ruling. They have been pressuring the government and major parties to take the amendment together with the appointment of new leadership in the two transitional justice bodies.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Commission of Investigation on Enforced Disappeared Persons have been vacant since mid-April.
The parties are negotiating seat-sharing in the two commissions but are yet to start serious homework on legal amendments.
The differences over who should take leadership of the truth commission are delaying the appointments, as both the ruling and opposition parties want their people to lead it.
A meeting of the recommendation committee led by former chief justice Om Prakash Mishra slated for June 23 can take a decision on the appointments provided that the political parties reach an agreement beforehand.
Negotiations over the portfolio-sharing will intensify once Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli returns from his Europe trip on Sunday.