NHRC chief yet to get formal letter

Cabinet decisions in limbo

Kathmandu, January 21:

There is still confusion over the status of one-month-old decision of the Council of Ministers to appoint National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) officials.

On December 18, the Cabinet had decided to appoint former Chief Justice Bishwonath Upadhyaya as chairman and former administrator Dr Lila Pathak and rights activist Gauri Pradhan as members.

NHRC officials said promulgation of the Interim Constitution has created further confusion, as the statute requires an official of the constitutional body to be recommend by the Constitutional Council for appointment. Such a recommendation was not mandatory in the past.

The posts of chairman and members are lying vacant after former chairman Nayan Bahadur Khatri and members of the rights body resigned from their posts six months ago.

“I did not get formal information about the Cabinet decision, nor did I get appointment letter from the government,” Upadhayay told this daily.

“Nobody has consulted me and I do not care much about the status of the cabinet decision,” he added.

However, the Minister of Land Reforms and Management Prabhu Narayan Chaudhary said that the government would implement the cabinet decision. “The Cabinet decision will be implemented at an appropriate time,” he said, adding: “The Interim Constitution has not created any confusion over the Cabinet decision.”

The interim statute has made the NHRC a constitutional body which comprises five members, including chairman. The PM appoints HNRC officials on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council as per Article 131(3) of the Interim Constitution. The Article states that former a chief justice or a retired justice of the Supreme Court can lead the NHRC.

The Council of Ministers, on the same day, had also selected 13 persons as ambassadors. This decision, too, could not be implemented, as the Special Hearing Committee of the House of Representatives could not interrogate the recommended persons after serious objection from the CPN-Maoist.