CJ should be chosen on seniority basis: SC judge

Kathmandu, Judy 29:

Supreme Court Justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi today said that seniority is the ‘safest criterion’ for appointment of the next Chief Justice.

“It is best to go by seniority in picking the new CJ,” Rayamajhi said in an exclusive interview with The Himalayan Times.

Rayamajhi, the second senior-most justice of the SC, however, said there is an urgent need to make the appointment more credible by inserting some provisions in the Interim Constitution regarding the parliamentary hearing. “To make the hearing more effective, some clear provisions should be inserted in the Constitution,” he said, adding: “The Constitutional Council (CC) members should be serious in reforming the judiciary and in CJ appointment.”

Rayamajhi is one among the justices eligible for appointment as CJ. The others are: Kedar Prasad Giri, Anup Raj Sharma, Ram Prasad Shrestha and Khil Raj Regmi. “You cannot question the constitutional provision. Constitution has made CC’s recommendation to the appointing authority mandatory for constitutional posts. It should not happen, but the possibility of a constitutional crisis between the Constitutional Council and the legislature cannot be ignored,” he said.

He said he is not in the race for the CJ post. “I am not in the race. I am the servant of law and master of my conscience. I am not close to any party. A man of noone is not fit for the race as newspapers reported,” he said. On judicial corruption, Rayamajhi said that it may not be correct to say the people’s trust in judiciary has evaporated. “You may say diminished to some extent. We have been trying to restore confidence.”

“We cannot claim that there is no corruption, but it is very difficult to take action against a judge on a charge of corruption. He would be reinstated if we prosecute him without solid evidence and that would create a negative impact. So we had forced many controversial judges to resign in the past 17 years,” he added.