Judicial committees of local levels that decide minor cases such as disputes on house rent, boundary, irrigation and wages have been struggling due to lack of infrastructure and human resources for effective service delivery.

Deputy mayor of Nepalgunj Sub-metropolitan City, Banke, Goma Thapa Magar said patriarchal values, lack of infrastructure and trained human resources were adversely impacting performance of judicial committees.

“There are around 94 per cent women deputy mayors who run the committees.

There is a mistaken notion that the judicial committees are women-led bodies where male office bearers do not have any stake,” Magar said, adding that sometimes executive bodies of local levels did not cooperate with the local judicial committees in implementation of verdicts passed by those committees. “Sometimes my committee issues order prohibiting a party of a case from selling his/her land, but the executive body of sub-metropolis does not enforce the committee’s order and I think the judicial committees in other places are facing the same problem,” Magar added.

Deputy mayor of Pokhariya Municipality, Parsa Salma Khatun said although her committee had been successful in settling local disputes, there were some cases where she felt that she was not able to do justice, mainly due to lack of authority to implement the decision of the judicial committee.

“Sometimes we tell people to halt illegal construction work. They comply with our orders in the presence of police personnel, but afterwards, they continue with the construction work. We can’t ask police to be present at the construction sites all the time,” she said and added that there were cases where ward chairpersons did not cooperate with her to implement the order issued by her committee.

Khatun said in the first year, she struggled a lot as she had no knowledge of legal provisions, but gradually she learned to do her job as the chief of the judicial committee.

“But we still do not have our own benches from where we can start court proceedings,” she said and added that she had been conducting mediation process in the training hall of the municipality.

Khatun said if judicial committees were to work effectively the government has to build required infrastructure including benches for deputy mayors, where they could conduct hearings.

“We need trained mediators, but we still do not have them,” she said. Human rights lawyer Mohan Kumar Karna said although representatives of the committees were elected representatives, they could only encourage reconciliation between parties of a case, but could not take the risk of delivering verdicts since doing so could anger their voters.

He said judicial committees were facing problems in implementing their decisions as chiefs of local bodies who had executive power were refusing to cooperate with the deputy mayors who ran the committees.

“Whenever there are chiefs and local chiefs from two different political parties, chiefs of local levels often refuse to enforce the decision. They do so for political reasons or because they get bogged down by patriarchal values,” he added.

He said the state needed to invest huge resource to build required infrastructure at local levels and train human resource to strengthen judicial committees.