SC rules AG’s discretionary power null and void; HR community welcomes the move

KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court has stripped the attorney general of the discretionary power to not implement recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission on human rights violations and scrapped the six-month statute of limitation provision for lodging cases of human rights violations.

Acting upon a writ petition filed by advocates Om Prakash Aryal, Yagya Raj Thapa and Pundevi Maharjan the Special bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi and Justices Ram Kumar Prasad Shah and Girish Chandra Lal scrapped Section 17 (10) and Section 10(5) of the National Human Rights Commission Act, 2012. NHRC itself was not satisfied with the provisions introduced by the erstwhile Parliament, which doubled as Constituent Assembly, last year, replacing the NHRC Act 1997. The apex court also had underlined that the provisions contradicted the Interim Constitution.

Section 17 (10) allowed the attorney general the power not to implement NHRC’s recommendations to initiate legal actions against anyone, but it called for informing the rights watchdog in writing in which the attorney general needed to give reasons. Today’s verdict means the attorney general now has to follow NHRC recommendations as per Section 17(5) of the Act, if NHRC insisted legal action against human rights violator(s) by showing the proper grounds.

“This is a positive step towards the implementation of NHRC decisions and it will help end the state of impunity,” The Himalayan Times daily, a leading newspaper of Nepal quoted Gauri Pradhan, NHRC Commissioner as saying.

The entire human rights community had accused the government and Parliament of curbing the competence, autonomy and freedom of NHRC by introducing such a provision.

“Though there are many other provisions in the Act that are against the principle of independence of NHRC, the apex court’s verdict issued today may help protect and promote rights of the people and end growing state of impunity in the country,” the paper quoted Charan Prasai, Chairman of Joint Forum for Human Rights as saying.

Your Responses