Judicial Council’s decision challenged at SC

Kathmandu, January 18

The Judicial Council’s decision to recommend 80 judges for appointment in high courts was challenged in the Supreme Court today. The first hearing of the case has been scheduled for tomorrow.

Keshav Prasad Das, Mina Kumari Dev and Raksha Ram Harijan and Advocate Surendra Prasad Yadav filed a case, arguing that JC’s nomination of 80 High Court judges on the basis of their political affiliation was wrong. They said it could harm their ability to dispense justice in an impartial and fearless manner.

Another writ petition was filed by Advocate Toyanath Dhungana against the JC’s decision. The four  petitioners have argued that the JC erred by not issuing advance notice to its members about the possibility of taking decisions on the basis of majority. Two members of the JC were absent on the day when the decision to recommend 80 High Court judges was made.

The petitioners have also asked the court to ensure impartial hearing of the case as the chief justice was also the chair of the JC and there could be risk of conflict of interest.

The petitioners have said the JC decision to appoint 80 High Court judges violated the principle of inclusion. They have stated that the decision violated Article 38 (4), 40 (1), 42 (1) and Section 5 (1) of Judicial Council Act, 2016. The petitioners have said that the JC recommended 83.75 per cent candidates from Khas Arya community.  They said Madhesi women and Madhesi Dalits had never been appointed as judges in history.

The petitioners have said that the JC had stated that it took its decision on the basis of inclusion, but Section 5 (1) of the Judicial Council Act stated that such recommendations should be made on the basis of proportional inclusion. They have also urged the court to stay the JC decision until the court delivers final verdict on the case.

Similarly, Advocate Toyanath Dhungana also filed a separate writ petition against the JC’s recommendation, arguing that it was against Article 140 and Section (5) of the Judicial Council Act, 2016. He has named all 80 candidates and JC members, including the chief justice, as defendants in the case.

The petitioner has argued that the JC should recommend equal number of candidates from among government service holders and private law practitioners. Dhungana also sought a stay order against the swearing-in of the newly appointed judges.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed High Court judges were administered oath of office and secrecy today.