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Justice delayed is justice denied

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Delays in the justice system often recognize the perspective of the accused or the disputant and suggest that the time taken for resolution of their issue is dangerous to the person seeking justice. 

The phrase “Justice delayed is justice denied” has always been prominent in the field of law. It has become a common jargon in the legal fraternity which holds the meaning that victims of crime and those accused of crime deserve access to a speedy trial and decision. We live in a democratic country where people are governed by the laws of the country. Social, economic and political to all citizens is one of the key mandates of the Nepalese Constitution. Article 20 of the constitution of Nepal, 2072 has ensured the right to justice as the fundamental right to every citizen along with the fair hearing from an impartial, independent and competent court or judicial authority. The constitution has also ensured social justice and reparation for victims. 

There is no denying that the judiciary has played a key role in democratic Nepal, serving as a check on the powers of the executive and the legislature as well as in protecting the fundamental 

rights of the citizen. Despite its many victories, unfortunately, the judiciary system sometimes, suffers from severe structural problems that prevent it from functioning properly. Cases are increasing annually in Nepal. A massive number of cases were registered in the outgoing fiscal year in Supreme Court and an equal ratio of increment was seen in High Courts and District Courts too. Pending cases, 24,372 are at the Supreme Court itself. Likewise, 19,918 are at high courts and 78,119 at district courts over many years. 

Justice delayed is justice denied is a wise saying. Why has delay happened and how this delay could be tackled are the question of the matter? And who is responsible for this state of affairs is also not an irrelevant question? 

The recent rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl, Nirmala Panta has yet raised concern over women’s safety in the country and the delay in justice delivery. Three years have passed but the wrongdoer has not been found yet. The victim’s family and others who are standing together with them in order to pursue justice, have become disappointed. 

By initiating an investigation, it is police who place the criminal justice system into motion Therefore, a police officer handling law and order duties may not be able to pay adequate attention to that specialized field. 

Often, there can be an institutional delay in filing the charge sheet. Even after the charge sheet is 

submitted to the court, there is a significant delay in taking the case into action and committing them to the court. 

For these issues, law and order and investigation duties must be separated. A specialized unit can 

be started in every district to investigate crimes of grave nature such as murder and rape. It is necessary to set up with the power to take cognizance of the offence directly and conduct a trial on a day-to-day basis.

The justice-seeking process might take even longer also due to lack of political commitment, legal and institutional clarities around the investigation. 

Delay in justice reflects the darker areas of the judicial system. Delays devalue judgments, create 

disquiet in litigants, and result in loss or deterioration of the evidence upon which rights are determined. 

Delays signal a failure of justice and subject the court system to public criticism and the aggrieved party may suffer and also loses its faith in the judiciary system along with gross violation of his/her human rights. It is very important to deliver justice on time to the victim to prevent the miscarriage of justice. 

As justice delayed is justice denied, similarly, justice hurried is justice buried is also equally true. Therefore, sufficient, reasonable and due hearing of every case with consideration of its circumstance is the requirement of natural justice and rule of law.

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