Rayamajhi’s selection upheld unopposed

KATHMANDU: The Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee (PHSC) on Thursday unanimously approved the nomination of senior-most Supreme Court (SC) justice Min Bahadur Rayamajhi for the post of Chief Justice (CJ).

“We unanimously approved the recommendation of the Constitutional Council (CC),” Kul Bahadur Gurung, chairman, PHSC, told this daily after the meeting. “We will forward the decision to the CC, which will forward it to the President for appointment,” Gurung added.

Rayamajhi is the second CJ to face parliamentary hearing. His predecessor Kedar Prasad Giri first faced it when Nepali Congress had backed his appointment and all the communist parties opposed it. After Giri’s retirement on May 4, Rayamajhi holds office as the acting CJ. The CC unanimously recommended him for the post on April 29.

During the hearing, CJ designate Rayamajhi said he would revamp the judiciary to make it world-standard. “I am short of time but I will initiate the task,” he added. He also solicited the support of the lawmakers and the government by promulgating Acts and providing budget.

Rayamajhi demanded security for judges in terms of appointment, removal, family and property saying they matter in imparting justice. He also stressed the functional autonomy of the judiciary, allowing it to appoint staff and make policies.

Rayamajhi, however, opposed the parliamentary hearing for the SC judges prior to appointment, stating that the system contradicted the Nepali judicial principle. He said the hearing would be relevant when there was no CC and Judicial Council, which scrutinise persons during nomination.

He said the federal model of the judiciary would be complex and expensive. For transparency, Rayamajhi plans to install CCTV in the apex court, and subsequently in other courts. He also plans to set up a mechanism to look into the breach of judges’ code of conduct. “Besides the impeachment, the mechanism can take some immediate action,” he added.

Stating that at least 22 judges were either sacked or forced to retire in relation to corruption after 1990, Rayamajhi said the lack of evidence had made the prosecution tough.

He said outdated laws such as the Muluki Ain (1963) were delaying justice delivery. As a solution, Rayamajhi said civil and criminal procedure code would be introduced.