Ex-CJ condemns SC over media fiat ruling

Kathmandu, November 16:

Former Chief Justice Mohan Prasad Sharma today accused the Supreme Court of failing to protect the freedom of speech and expression and the free press, fundamental rights of

the people guaranteed by the Constitution.

“It is wrong to restrict fundamental rights,” he said. “Although this is not the final decision, the Supreme Court has had to consider these rights’ issues while issuing the stay order on the media ordinance case,” Sharma said while speaking at the Reporters’ Club today.

Reacting to yesterday’s pact between the SC and the NBA to protect the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law and the fundamental rights of the people, Sharma said he was not satisfied with the agreement. “We will see in future if the agreement is good or bad,” he said. He also expressed his doubts on the scope of the Constitution. “The provision of organising an oath of office and Article 127 are active,” Sharma said.

One of the drafters of the 1990 Constitution and former SC Justice Laxman Prasad Aryal said the future will evaluate yesterday’s pact between the SC and the lawyers’ body. “The pact aims at alerting the SC not to repeat such mistakes in the future,” he added. According to him, the apex court had made a mistake by not issuing a stay order on the media ordinance case.

“The SC has to decide a public interest litigation (PIL) according to its public importance,” Aryal said: “This is not a personal issue whereby the SC has to protect the rights of the people.”

“The pact has reminded the SC of its duty to protect fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution,” Aryal said.

Dr Sundar Mani Dixit, a leading Civil Society member, accused the NBA of betraying the civil society and surrendering to the wishes of SC when the entire civil society was active in its movement against the controversial media ordinance.

He said the NBA had made

a wrong decision by signing a pact with the SC, which had failed to protect the right of the people to access news broadcasts by FM stations.

Dr Surya Dhungel too expressed his dissatisfaction with the SC judgment that bars FM stations from airing news.

Lawyers Bishwo Kanta Mainali, Harihar Dahal and Madhav Banskota had defended the NBA’s move to sign the pact with the SC yesterday. They had said the Supreme Court had assured them of safeguarding peoples’ rights in the future.