Independence of judiciary ‘at risk’

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, April 19:

Legal experts today expressed serious doubts over the independence of the judicial bodies,

including the Supreme Court and the National Human Rights Commission, after the February 1 Royal move. “As the chiefs of these bodies have been publicly backing the Royal move, there is a serious doubt that they will work independently,” said retired Supreme Court justice Laxman Prasad Aryal. “It is a serious issue every legal practitioner should think about,” he said, speaking at an interaction on State of Emergency and the Human Rights Situation, organised by the Patan Appellate Court Bar Association’s Human Rights and Peoples’ Concern Committee. “We would not tolerate anyone who acts to tarnish the image of the judicial bodies,” Aryal said, adding: “We should, and will fight against such people.”

Aryal, one of the drafters of the 1990 constitution, said the recent public speech made by Chief Justice Hari Prasad Sharma in support of the Royal takeover was not tolerable. Former law minister, Subash Chandra Nembang, said the Chief Justice and NHRC Chief Nayan Bahadur Khatri have no right to speak anything that goes against the ethics of their posts.

“They are not there to misuse the confidence of the people as they have been enjoying the tax-payers’ money,” he said, adding, “If they cannot continue their offices independently, they should quit.” President of Nepal Bar Association, Shambhu Thapa, said Sharma and Khatri should quit as they have already lost the public’s confidence.

He also flayed the Maoist atrocities, including the killing of innocent civilians, abductions and extortion. Member of the National Assembly, Radheshyam Adhikary, said it was illegal to detain leaders and impose restrictions on people’s movement and censorship on the media.

Senior advocates, Sindhu Nath Pyakurel and Bishow Kanta Mainali, however, raised questions over the significance of the 19990 constitution particularly after the turn of events since February 1. “There is no option but to go for a new constitution at a time when the existing constitution is violated,” they said. President of the Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), Subodh Raj Pyakurel, hoped the government’s ‘brutality’ would diminish after the UN intervention under Agenda 19.