ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi has woken up to the shortage of judges in the three tiers of the judiciary and started talks with the government to avert an impending crisis. Regmi’s initiation holds significance at a time when the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, which doubled as the Parliament, has hampered the appointment of judges and Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, also in charge of the Ministry of Law, has not taken initiatives for the appointment of judges at appellate and district courts. “Since it is a matter affecting the entire society, I have been holding talks with the government at different level to prevent a crisis,” Chief Justice Regmi told this daily. He expressed confidence that the government will back effort to fill up vacancies.
He hoped the judges’ appointment process will gain pace once seniormost Justice and ex-officio member of the Judicial Council, Damodar Prasad Sharma, returns from his Mansarovar visit. According to Regmi, the right of the people to get justice will be undermined if the JC fails to address the shortfall of judges. The judge-appointing body has been holding discussions on skirting the mandatory provision of Article 155 of the Interim Constitution, which has it that parliamentary hearing must precede the appointment of Supreme Court justices, chiefs and members of constitutional bodies, and ambassadors.
The judicial leadership has floated three ways — appointment through hearing, without hearing in the absence of the Parliament and removing obstacles in the appointment through presidential power as per Article 155 of the Interim Constitution.
It maintains either PM should give sufficient attention to JC affairs or appoint a separate minister to lead the law portfolio.
Failure to appoint judges will land the judiciary in trouble after January when the Supreme Court will be left with six out of 25 judges, who will retire by then. Appellate and district courts will also fall short of judges.