SC to continue hearing today

Kathmandu, March 19

Lawyers representing petitioners in cases filed against government’s decision to promote Deputy Inspector General Jay Bahadur Chand to the post of inspector general of police argued that DIG Nawa Raj Silwal should be promoted to the post on grounds of seniority.

Pleading before a full bench of Supreme Court today, Senior Advocate Bal Krishna Neupane said Chand’s rival DIG Nawa Raj Silwal had more marks than Chand in annual performance form and hence he should be promoted to the post of IGP. Neupane said since this was a promotion to the post of top cop, the government should take its decision on the basis of annual work performance form, arguing that in all the categories, Silwal had higher marks than Chand.

Senior Advocate Tulasi Bhatta said the government only evaluated work performance of Chand and hence the decision to promote Chand to top cop was wrong.

Senior Advocate Shambhu Thapa said the government had stated in its written reply that since the decision to promote Chand to the post of IGP was a collective decision of the government it would not be judicially manageable if it was reviewed by the court but that argument did not hold water. “This is not crown’s privilege. Does a government have any privilege?” he wondered.

Advocate Govinda Bandi said there was a precedent propounded by the SC in 1984 which stated that a government employee had the right to get a promotion. He said since it was an action of an accountable government, the court had the power to check whether government’s decision to promote Chand to the post of IGP was in conformity with Rule 41 of the Police Regulation.

Advocate Bijay Kant Mainali said the government had not cited any reason for promoting Chand and it happened so because the government wanted to hide its mistake.

Advocate Bhimarjun Acharya said seniority was consciously mentioned in the police regulation as one of the grounds for promotion which was not the case in the Armed Police Force Regulation and hence Silwal should be promoted to the post of IGP as he was senior to DIG Chand.

Acharya said Silwal had more marks in five sections of work performance form in comparison to his rival Chand and therefore Silwal should be promoted to the post of IGP. “Here the government has limited discretion,” he argued.

Advocate Chandra Kanta Gyawali said the cases were constitutional issues not political ones and hence were subject to judicial review.

Lawyers representing petitioners finished their pleading today. Lawyers representing Chand and the Attorney General’s Office, who represents the government, will have chance to rebut petitioners’ arguments tomorrow. Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha told THT that he would not plead tomorrow but deputy and joint attorneys general would plead to defend the government. Shrestha said he did not have anything new to plead in the cases as he had already done so in previous hearings. Shrestha, however, said he believed that those justices who had already entered the merit of the case to issue stay order against the government should have recused themselves from hearing the case.

The case was heard by a five-member full bench headed by Chief Justice Sushila Karki. Other members of the bench are justices Hari Krishna Karki, Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Anil Kumar Sinha. Petitioners Kapil Dev Dhakal and DIG Silwal had moved the court after DIG Chand was promoted to IGP despite being third in seniority list.