The Supreme Court has written a letter to the government and security agencies ordering them to make the whereabouts of people taken under custody by the government and the security forces public. This SC order is a milestone in Nepali history.
On the basis of information received, the joint bench of SC judges Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Bal Ram KC on Tuesday ordered the security agencies and the Prime Minister's Office to disclose, within three days, the whereabouts of 14 persons who were said to have gone missing after they were arrested by security forces in the last 15 days.
This is the first time that orders were given to the government and security forces on the basis of a roughly written application letter.
Three weeks back, the Nepal Human Rights Commission filed a habeas corpus writ petition demanding to know the state and whereabouts of 433 missing people.
On the matter of the writ, the SC had issued a show cause notice to the government security authorities. Two days ago, the Nepal Human Rights Commission registered an application written on an unofficial paper at the SC, saying that the security agencies had arrested and disappeared 14 more persons in the last fortnight even after the show cause order was issued. The SC then had a hearing on Tuesday and on the basis of the habeas corpus writ application, ordered the government to make the state of the missing people public within three days.
The SC was informed that Balaram Rai, Rabin Rai, Tek Bahadur Rai, Rakesh Rai, Subas Rai, Bam Bahadur Rai, Durga Bahdur Rai, Prem Kumar Limbu, Om Prakash BC, Bal Ram KC, Khadka Bahadur Dharti, Teknath Sigdel and Guru Subedi had been detained in the last 15 days.
The prime minister and the Council of Ministers, Defense Ministry, Home Ministry, Army Headquarters and Armed Police Headquarters have been asked four questions: were these people imprisoned or not, if they have been then for what reasons, under which law and their whereabouts.
Earlier, laws, rules and a properly written habeas corpus writ were compulsory for issuing such orders. An official in the Writ Section of the SC said, "The fact that such writs need to be written within a certain format has been defied from Tuesday. It seems that any format would work from now on."
Human rights lawyer, Bhimarjun Acharya, is happy about the precedence. "In sensitive cases like habeas corpus, such flexibility should have been adopted much earlier, but better late than never," he said."
(Nepalnews.com Translation Service)