Bickering Gurung, Sthapit urged to bury their hatchet

Kathmandu, December 12:

Constituent Assembly members and legal experts today called on law minister Dev Gurung and judicial council member Motikaji Sthapit to resolve problems caused by the differences of opinion witnessed between the two.

“The rift between the minister and the JC member does not bring a positive outcome,” UML CA member and lawyer Agni Kharel said.

Kharel said that Sthapit was constitutionally and legally strong and was not bound to work under the government’s or the PM’s pressure. “However, he should not disobey the prime minister’s call to meet him,” Kharel added.

Sthapit has been facing pressure from the government to resign from the post, citing that he could not represent the Maoist-led government in the Judicial Council. “Either the minister should be ready to let go of his pressure on Sthapit or the latter should make way for a positive outcome,” Kharel said. “There is no other ground that binds Sthapit to resign except moral,” he opined.

“Though he is not compelled to work under the government’s and the PM’s pressure, he cannot decline to meet the PM,” Kharel said. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ has expressed his willingness to meet Sthapit but the latter reportedly declined the offer.

Senior advocate Shreehari Aryal said the constitution had suggested a solution to the judicial problem. “The Maoists want to oust

Sthapit in order to intervene in the judiciary. He is not holding a post subject to change with a change in government,” Aryal added.

“He was appointed to the post for a four-year term and he should be allowed to stay for he is a respected legal luminary with the capacity to work for the protection of judicial independence,” the senior advocate said.

Aryal also added that the Maoist-led government intended to jeopardise independent judiciary and an evident example was Sthapit’s case. He also sought NBA’s official view in the regard as the case was related to the independence of judiciary.

CA member and lawyer Eak Raj Bhandari, however, said that Sthapit’s issue was not related with judicial independence. “We just want to replace him by our appointee because the PM should get his representative in the Judicial Council,” he added.

“It is unjustifiable to have an opposition representative in the Judicial Council,” he said. “This problem should be resolved politically as he cannot represent the Moist-led government,” added Bhandari.