Victims of domestic violence prefer police to judicial committee for justiceMost of the people’s representatives in the judicial committee do not have the legal knowledge to settle disputes.
An inebriated neighbour had verbally abused Kastura Airi of Sunarya Rural Municipality in Baitadi district five months ago. Airi knows well about the provision of the local unit’s judicial council to settle disputes. However, instead of filing a complaint at the judicial committee, she visited a temporary police post in Satbanjh and lodged a complaint against her neighbour.
“I decided to complain to the police because the judicial committee is not effective at providing justice,” said Airi.
According to her, Kamala Mahara from the same village had sought help from the committee when her husband started abusing her. But the committee did not do anything to stop the abuse, so Mahara had to file a complaint with the police.
Saraswati Kunwar of Dogadakedar Rural Municipality Ward No. 3 went through a similar ordeal. She had filed a complaint at the judicial committee against her husband Prakash and father-in-law Nabaraj on domestic violence charge a few months ago. The committee settled the dispute after the accused signed an agreement paper of not repeating such acts in the future. But the violence continued, and Kunwar had to seek the help of the police.
Like Airi, Mahara and Kunwar, many villagers— mainly victims of domestic violence— prefer police to the local judicial committee to get justice.
“It takes months to get justice if we depend on the judicial committee. Police take immediate action and resolve the problems,” said Kaushila Chand of Sunarya Rural Municipality Ward No 2.
The Constitution of Nepal 2015 has envisaged the creation of the judicial committees in each of the 753 local level units in the country. The committee is headed by the deputy mayor in municipalities and vice-chairperson in rural municipalities to deliver justice on specific disputes. However, it has been reported that the committees are not effective in doing their works even after two years of the local body elections.
In Baitadi, the judicial committee has been formed in all 10 local bodies after the elections in 2017. The committees have been looking after various cases of local disputes and domestic violence. But the victims have little faith on the committees to get timely justice. As per the information available at the local units, only a few cases have been filed with the committees. In the judicial committee of Signas Rural Municipality, only a single case has been filed so far.
The people’s representatives admit that the committees are ineffective. “We have been suffering from various problems like shortage of resources, legal advisers, and separate bench. As a result, we are unable to provide prompt justice,” said Parbati Rana, the judicial committee coordinator of Dilashaini Rural Municipality.
Most of the people’s representatives in the judicial committee do not have the legal knowledge to settle disputes. And most of the local bodies in the district are yet to appoint legal advisors.
“The victims want immediate justice but we are unable to do so due to a lack of resources. Meanwhile, police have a good mechanism to look after cases and they are fast,” said Parbati Airi Karki, the vice-chairperson of Dogadakedar Rural Municipality.