Nepal | March 30, 2020

Delay in appointing CJ hits SC functioning

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 5

Lawyers say delay in the appointment of the new chief justice is adversely affecting the performance of the Supreme Court.

The SC is being headed by Acting CJ Deepak Raj Joshee after Gopal Parajuli was relieved from the post of chief justice on March 14.

On March 27, the Judicial Council forwarded the names of three eligible justices — Acting CJ Deepak Raj Joshee, Om Prakash Mishra and Cholendra Shamsher JB Rana — to the Constitutional Council for the post of CJ but the CC has not met to take a call on the CJ nominee.

Once the CC nominates a new CJ, Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee will have to confirm the nomination.

Senior Advocate Harihar Dahal said prolonging the status of acting CJ was bad for the SC justice because he could not work with full confidence.

“Parliamentary Hearing Special Committee can be formed only after parliamentary rules are enacted. The Parliament was prorogued without enacting the parliamentary rules,” Dahal said.

Spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat Bharat Raj Gautam said the PHSC could be formed only in the budget session of the Parliament when rules governing the process of PHSC formation and its procedures would be adopted by both Houses of the Parliament- the House of Representatives and the National Assembly.

As per the constitutional provision, lawmakers from both houses should sit on the parliamentary panel, Gautam added.

Senior Advocate Satish Krishna Kharel said the concerned bodies should not take time to appoint the new chief justice. “In the past, the names of CJ nominees were recommended a month before the incumbent CJ retired, but this did not happen this time mainly because nobody knew that Parajuli would suddenly lose his job,” he said. He added that the concerned bodies should set the practice of quickly appointing the chief justice to end transition in the judiciary.  “Transition in the judiciary is bad because the Supreme Court may not adjudicate cases or pass orders that could make things difficult for the government,” Kharel said. Former justice of SC Bala Ram KC said delay in appointing the CJ could adversely impact the judicial reform process.

“As per law, only the CJ has the authority to reform the judiciary and unless a justice is confirmed as CJ, s/he cannot implement his/her vision for judicial reform,” he said. He added that the prime minister should have called emergency meeting of the Constitutional Council and the CC should have nominated the new CJ before the PM’s India visit.

Huge backlog

The Supreme Court adjudicated 11,321 cases in the fiscal year that ended in mid-July 2017. This was only 1.17 per cent more than the case disposal rate in the fiscal 2015-16.

Out of 34,353 cases that the SC had to dispose of in the fiscal 2016-17, 23,713 were backlog cases. Currently, the SC has yet to adjudicate 23,032 cases.

According to the annual report submitted to the president by the Supreme Court, the total numbers of cases in courts were 254,529 in the fiscal 2016-17, including the 88,850 backlog cases, out of which 157,495 were disposed of, a disposal rate of 61.88 per cent.

In 2016-17, courts in the country disposed of   4.85 per cent more cases than the number of cases adjudicated in 2015-16. But despite the increased rate of disposal, the courts have yet to dispose of 97,034 cases.

A version of this article appears in print on April 06, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.

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