Court System in Nepal

The Article covers the Court System in Nepal, the structure, judges and jurisdiction of the Courts of Nepal along with specialized Tribunals and related Judicial Bodies.

What is the Court System in Nepal?

The Powers relating to Justice in Nepal are exercised by courts and other judicial bodies in Nepal:

  1. Supreme Court
  2. High Court
  3. District Court

How many Courts are there in Nepal?

As categorized by Section 127 of Constitution of Nepal 2072, there are three major types of Courts in Nepal:

  1. One Supreme Court
  2. Seven High Court
  3. Seventy-Seven District Court

Supreme Court

Structure of Supreme Court

The ultimate legal authority regarding the interpretation of the Constitution, laws, and rulings on cases resides with the Supreme Court. Furthermore, it assumes the role of a Court of Record, which entails oversight, direction, and inspection of subordinate courts and tribunals. Everyone should adhere to and comply with the legal principles established by the Supreme Court.

Judges of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court can consist of a maximum of twenty Judges in addition to the Chief Justice of Nepal. The mode of recommendation of Judges of the Supreme Court differs. The Chief Justice is recommended by the Constitution Council and appointed by the President.

The Judges of Supreme Court are recommended by Judicial Council while being appointed by the President themselves. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court must have served in the Court for more than three years while the term of office of Chief Justice can be a maximum of six years.

Jurisdiction of Supreme Court

The Supreme Court of Nepal has jurisdiction for various purposes:

  1. Any Nepali citizen can petition the Supreme Court to declare a law void if it violates the Constitution by unreasonably restricting fundamental rights or for other reasons. The court can annul such laws either retroactively or from its decision date.
  2. The Supreme Court can enforce fundamental rights or address legal issues of public interest by issuing orders or providing remedies, especially when no other adequate remedy exists.
  3. It can issue writs like habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, and quo warranto under its extraordinary jurisdiction, except for matters of parliamentary proceedings and privileges.
  4. The court has the authority, as per federal law, to hear various cases, including original trials, appeals, judgment confirmation, revisions, and petitions for review.
  5. It settles appeals from High Court cases, addresses matters of public importance regarding constitutional interpretation, and considers cases referred by the High Court for its decision.

High Court

Structure of High Court

High Courts are required to be present in each of the seven States, in their respective capitals along with relevant extensions to have geographic homogeneity. Each High Court should consist of a specific number of Judges in addition to the Chief Judge.

In totality, the number of High Court Judges shouldn’t exceed more than One Hundred and Sixty Posts with a one Chief Judge and a minimum of ten judges in each High Court.

Judges of High Court

The Chief Judge of High Court and Judges of the Court are recommended by the Judicial Council and appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

For qualifying to be a judge of High Court, they are required to have obtained Bachelor Degree in Law and served as District Court for at least five years or practiced as Senior Advocate or Advocate for at least 10 years or engaged in Research of Law and Justice for at least ten years or served as Least Gazette First Class of Judicial Service for at least five years. In the case of absence of Chief Judge through vacancy or inability to carry out duties, the senior-most judge of the High Court should be the Acting Chief Judge.

Jurisdiction of High Court

The High Court’s jurisdiction includes:

  1. Issuing necessary orders to enforce fundamental rights or other legal rights, especially when other remedies are lacking or inadequate, and settling legal disputes of public interest.
  2. It can issue writs such as habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, and quo warranto, except for matters related to parliamentary proceedings and privileges.
  3. The High Court has the authority, as per federal law, to conduct original trials, hear appeals, and confirm judgments.

District Court

Structure of District Court

District Courts should be organized in each District of Nepal which shall inspect, supervise and direct Subordinate Judicial Bodies and act as Subordinate to High Court and Supreme Court.

These Courts should be situated in District Headquarters and the number of judges should be determined on the basis of workload of the Judicial Council. If the Court consists of more than one District Judge, the senior district judge should act as the Chief of the Court.

Judges of District Court

The Judges of District Courts in Nepal are appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court on the recommendation of the Judicial Council. The Vacancy in District Courts are filled through three major procedures:

Competent Government Officers

Twenty percent of the district court judges are appointed by the Gazetted Second Class Judicial Service on the basis of evaluation, seniority, qualifications, and competency for a minimum of three years.

Exam for Competitive Government Officers

A competitive open examination is utilized to select forty percent of the judges from among government officers who have completed three years of service as Gazetted Second-Class Judicial Service.

Competitive Open Exams

Forty percent of those judges are chosen via an open competitive examination subsequent to completing a Bachelor of Laws degree with a minimum of eight years of experience as an advocate, eight years of service in a Gazetted Post of Judicial Service, or eight years of involvement in the teaching and research of law.

Jurisdiction of District Court

The jurisdiction of a District Court includes:

  1. Conducting original trials and settling all cases within its jurisdiction, unless otherwise specified by federal law.
  2. Handling petitions, including those for habeas corpus and prohibition.
  3. Hearing appeals from quasi-judicial bodies and local-level judicial bodies established under state law.
  4. Initiating and enforcing contempt proceedings, as per federal law, against those who obstruct justice or disobey court orders or judgments.

Specialized Courts in Nepal

The Constitution of Nepal has also established specialized courts, judicial bodies or tribunals for settling of types and nature of cases as per Federal Law. However, these additional bodies cannot issue criminal sentences involving imprisonment for a term of more than one year.

Judicial Council

The Constitution has also established Judicial Council for the appointment, transfer, dismissal of Judges and matters relating to Administration of Justice in Nepal. The Members of Judicial Council are:

1. Chief Justice (Chairperson)

2. Federal Minister for Law and Justice

3. Senior-Most Judge of the Supreme Court

4. Jurist Nominated by the President on the recommendation of Prime Minister

5. Senior Advocate or Advocate with twenty years of Experience appointed by the President on recommendation of Nepal Bar Association

The Term of Office of the Members of the Judicial Council shall be four years.

Judicial Service Commission

The Constitution has also established Judicial Service Commission for the appointment, transfer and promotion of Federal Judicial Service. The Judicial Service Commission shall consist of following members:

1. Chief Justice (Chairperson)

2. Federal Minister for Law and Justice

3. Seniormost Judge of the Supreme Court

4. Chairperson of the Public Service Commission

5. Attorney General

How to File a Case in Courts of Nepal?

It is strongly recommended to consult a reliable lawyer or a Law Firm before filing or initiating any form of cases, either civil or Criminal.

Conclusion

The court system in Nepal comprises three main tiers: the Supreme Court, High Courts, and District Courts. At the apex is the Supreme Court, holding ultimate authority in interpreting the constitution and laws of Nepal. It oversees lower courts and has jurisdiction over a wide range of legal matters, including enforcing fundamental rights and issuing writs.

High Courts, present in each of the seven states, handle cases at a regional level. They have the power to enforce rights and issue writs, along with conducting trials and hearing appeals. District Courts, situated in each district, form the grassroots level of the judicial system. They handle original trials, appeals, and petitions, with jurisdiction over a variety of cases within their districts.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and shall not be construed as legal advice, advertisement, personal communication or solicitation. Specific advice of professionals must be sought for each case.

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