Experts stress need for constitutional court

Kathmandu, August 12

Experts today underscored the need for an independent constitutional court which interpreted the constitution independently and correctly.

They said the constitutional bench in the Supreme Court could not function as expected because of conflict of interest as the judges on the bench might also be represented in the Judicial Council which appoints and transfer judges.

According to the experts, the constitutional court is also necessary because various overlapping of interests might occur as the country has just embarked on a journey to federalism, and such issues should be addressed by independent and correct interpretation of the constitution.

“So if there’s no independent constitutional court, there might be crisis,” said Senior Advocate Purna Man Shakya, speaking at the ‘Conference on the Constitution of Nepal’ here today. “However, the constitutional court might not work if it is politicised or judges are not independent.”

Constitution expert Bhimarjun Acharya echoed Shakya, but said although there were many problems he was quite optimistic as Nepal’s judiciary was considered relatively better in South Asia. He said the constitution in Nepal had provisioned the simplest judiciary structure, which boosted people’s access to justice.

“Of course there are issues, but reforms in the appointment of the judges, educating the people and media and making the judges responsible could immediately solve such problems,” he said.

Advocate Menaka Guruswamy of India said judiciary in South Indian countries were heavily politicised. She suggested that having a constitutional court in each of these countries might bring some uniformity. The experts also said that since it was not realistic to find an independent judge at the time of appointment, there should be independence among the judges after appointment.

On the recent rejection of chief justice nominee Deepak Raj Joshee by the Parliamentary Hearing Committee, the experts said the judicial council should have carried out proper study beforehand whether a person was fit to hold the post.

They also said the rejection was made on subjective grounds and not based on facts, which set a negative precedent. Judges are now under constant fear that they might be rejected on subjective grounds, they added.