National Judicial Academy Nepal (NJA-Nepal), in cooperation with the Supreme Court and UNDP, organized the first Workshop on “Strengthening Integrity and Accountability Mechanisms of the Judiciary” in Kathmandu on 8-9 April, 2016. In his keynote address Rt. Hon’ble Chief Justice of Nepal Kalyan Shrestha set the stage for discussion explaining that the role of the judiciary is to protect the interests of people and promote not simply the “rule of law”, rather the “rule of good law”. The Chief Justice explained how the judges need to justify their title of “Honourable”, through the sanctity of their conduct and seriousness of the service.
Over 60 judges and high level judicial officers from Supreme Court, Appellate Courts and District Courts took part in the event. The major topics presented and discussed during the Workshop included economics and politics of corruption, standards for judicial integrity and independence, judicial integrity and international frameworks, Bangalore Principles, judicial integrity and accountability mechanism in Nepal, promoting transparency and accountability in judiciary etc. Chief Judges of Appellate Court of Nepal Hon'ble Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada and Hon'ble Dr. Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, and international expert Hon'ble Judge Murray Kellam from Australia delivered their presentations. Other national experts as well as experts from Bangkok Regional Hub UNDP had also made useful presentation.
Speakers at the Workshop highlighted that judiciary in Nepal has a good enough base for integrity and accountability in terms of legal framework, code of conduct, monitoring tools, use of information and communication technology etc. However, there is a need to approach the agenda from holistic and systematic perspective also taking into account the evolving normative framework. The new efforts need to be visible to the public leading to an improved perception of the judiciary among the people.
In her closing remarks, Senior-most Justice of the Supreme Court Hon’ble Sushila Karki noted that judges should not be afraid of public scrutiny; rather they should fear bad judges as they tend to discredit the overall institution. She mentioned that the existing mechanism of transparency and accountability needs to be strengthened to increase public confidence in the institution and committed to undertake a self-assessment of the integrity mechanisms of the judiciary so as to identify its strengths, weaknesses and gaps. In the closing session, Executive Director Hon'ble Keshari Raj Pandit observed that NJA-Nepal will take the initiative for introducing a new module in its training package on integrity and providing training to the judicial officials and conducting research in this area.