Hearing of complaints against 11 nominees for Supreme Court justices to begin on Sunday

Kathmandu, July 14

With the Nepali Congress and the CPN-Maoist Centre registering a no-confidence motion against the KP Sharma Oli-led government at the Parliament; the fate of 22 ambassadorial nominees’ hangs in the balance.

A Nepali Congress leader told The Himalayan Times that proposed names for envoys could be reviewed if a new government was formed.

“The government can not only revise the names proposed by the earlier government, but it can even recall any serving ambassador if it deems necessary,” said NC leader Bal Krishna Khand.

A leader of the CPN-Maoist Centre claimed that envoys picked by his party would remain intact despite the change of guard. The leader, however, didn’t deny the possibility of changes in the proposed envoys’ designated duty stations in the new set-up. The proposed stations of the recommended envoys from the foreign service might also be changed, the leader added.

The Oli-government had recommended 22 envoys to fill long-vacant diplomatic outposts in April.

Among the nominees, eight were foreign service cadres while others were picked based on their affinity to either of the three ruling parties, primarily CPN-UML, CPN-Maoist Centre and RPP-Nepal.

Former foreign minister and CPN-UML leader Mahendra Bahadur Pandey was named ambassador to China, while former minister and RPP-N vice-chairman Niranjan Thapa was named envoy for Myanmar. Unified CPN-Maoist central committee member Lucky Sherpa was proposed ambassador to Australia, Dalit leader Padam Sundar for Bahrain, Prof Mahendra Singh for Qatar and The Rising Nepal Chief Editor Yubanath Lamsal for Denmark.

The proposed envoys from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs include Durga Bahadur Chhetri to the United Kingdom, Tara Prasad Pokhrel to Brazil, Ramesh Khanal to Germany, Jabindra Aryal to Egypt, Sewa Adhikary Lamsal to Pakistan, Rishiram Ghimire to Russia, Prakash Subedi to Austria and Lok Bahadur Thapa to Belgium.

Their hearings and other appointment formalities, however, were not held due to delay in forming the Public Hearing Special Committee of the Parliament. As per the constitutional provision, envoys have to face parliamentary hearing process mandatorily before being appointed for the diplomatic assignment.

Since its formation on June 19, the House panel has been seeking complaints, if any, against the proposed envoys.

According to PHSC Chairman Kul Bahadur Gurung, many complaints have been lodged at the committee, but it has yet to decide when to commence the hearing on the proposed envoys.

“At first, we will conduct hearing on the recommended justices of the Supreme Court, and then proceed with the complaints against the envoys for their hearing,” Gurung told THT.

Gurung, who is a lawmaker of the Nepali Congress, made it clear that it was not for the PHSC but for the government to decide whether to review the names of proposed envoys. “Our job is to screen the proposed envoys for their eligibility,” he said. “We will do so accordingly.”

Another NC lawmaker, Prakash Sharan Mahat, also a member of the PHSC, however, said it’s up to the new government whether to endorse the proposed envoys or reject them.

Earlier as well, proposed envoy to India Chandra Kanta Paudel’s name was changed after the abrupt fall of the UCPN-Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government in May 2009.

Meanwhile, the PHSC has decided to conduct hearing on the nomination of 11 Supreme Court justices from Sunday. The panel took a decision to this effect today after hearing complaints lodged at the panel.

According to PHSC Secretary Dhruba Prasad Ghimire, the hearing on the nomination of SC Justices would be conducted as per the seniority lists provided by the Parliament Secretariat.