ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: When Ram Prasad Shrestha assumed the post of chief justice nine months ago, he stated that judges are responsible for 60 per cent of corruption and irregularities in the judiciary. The Judicial Council, led by him then recommended parliament impeach Supreme Court Justice Rana Bahadur Bam and decided to sack Appellate Court judge Tej Bahadur Karki.
It was a courageous step in judicial history. The judicial leadership made an impressive mark in the judiciary, the impact of which would be seen in the future, as to whether it would adversely affect the independence of the judiciary or help clean up the judiciary.
Karki was Shrestha’s first target in the clean up of the
judiciary campaign. Though he could not take action against Bam, who holds the post of apex court judgeship, Shrestha also could do nothing to another ‘clever’ judge who resigned a day before the JC meeting averting possible action against him after Shrestha received the report of the Supreme Court Justice Bala Ram KC-led panel.
CJ Shrestha had investigated the corruption and irregularities in the judiciary as then CJ Anup Raj Sharma had nominated him to investigate judicial corruption. Submitting the report, he held the judges responsible for 60 per cent of wrong doings while lawyers, prosecutors and police were responsible for the rest. He blamed the press of creating mistrust towards the judiciary.
Immediately after joining the top judicial post, Shrestha had promised to punish the corrupt and to clean up the judiciary. Shrestha’s leadership shows that one can do many things if he or she honestly intends to do so. A numbers of CJ’s tenure expire with non-cooperation from the members of the JC due to which they could do nothing against corruption in the judiciary.
Even after Justice Bam’s case was forwarded to the parliament, it is not easy to garner two-third-majority to impeach and relieve him from the post. Since it is a historic case related to
judicial independence and judges’ freedom, it is an opportunity for parliament to set a precedent for the future as well.
“This is an appreciable move and the first time that the JC began such a courageous anti-corruption drive in the judiciary,” senior advocate Shreehari Aryal, who is also general secretary of Transparency International Nepal told THT Perspectives. “I appreciate the CJ’s courage and also advise Bam to tender his resignation because he cannot resume office even if he gets a clean chit from parliament,” Aryal added.