Nepalese Court Continues Stay Order on Access Rules

6 February 2012

The Supreme Court of Nepal on Feb. 5 extended an order to delay implementation of a government effort to deny access to 140 types of information.

Justices Girish Chandra Lal and Prakash Osti “gave continuity” to a Jan. 31 stay order previously issued by Justice Baidhya Nath Upadhyay. (See previous report.)

Critics have charged that the government’s instructions to agencies undermine the right to know law and have appealed to the court to reject it.

“The bench held that the classification of information in breach of prevailing laws will pose a serious threat to constitutional development and democratic system,” according to the Himalayan News Service. “It further directed the government not to hinder the free flow of information and put the decision on hold until a future order.”

“During today’s hearing, senior advocate Harihar Dahal and advocates Hari Krishna Karki, Sher Bahadur KC, Yadu Nath Khanal, Ananta Raj Luitel, Sunil Pokhrel, Raju Khadka, Gopal Prasad Ghimire and Laxman Acharya sought the court’s intervention to protect democratic values. Government attorneys Yuba Raj Subedi and Dharma Raj Paudel pleaded on behalf of the government.

“Earlier in the day, government attorney Subedi had submitted a letter to the bench showing that the government has already issued a circular to government bodies not to implement the classification in response to the apex court’s initial stay order. However, the bench held that it deemed necessary to issue a fresh stay order as the Cabinet had not passed the previous circular.”

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