Kathmandu, February 11
Lawyers from Province 2 who had been boycotting court proceedings since January 31 against the Judicial Council’s decision to appoint 80 high court judges ended their protest after a seven-point deal was signed between the Lawyers Coordination Committee and Nepal Bar Association.
LCC said that JC failed to ensure proportional inclusion in the appointment of 80 High Court judges, thereby violating constitutional and legal provisions.
In the seven-point deal that LCC signed with NBA, both sides agreed to seek opinion of all units on the demands protesting lawyers raised in Birgunj Declaration on January 30.
Although the seven-point deal does not clearly mention NBA demanding impeachment of JC office bearers, LCC Coordinator Sudhir Karna said it was about the same issue, as the deal talked of Birgunj Declaration that had sought impeachment of JC office bearers.
Karna said both sides agreed to seek NBA units’ opinion within a month on whether or not the NBA should seek impeachment of JC chair and members for allegedly violating the constitution and the prevailing laws.
“Those who have taken oath to uphold the constitution and laws violated them,” Karna said and added that although the Parliament was the authority to impeach constitutional post holders, NBA had the right to raise the issue of impeachment against JC office bearers for violating the constitution. NBA General Secretary Khamma Bahadur Khati, however, said the NBA did not support the protesting lawyers’ demand for raising the issue of impeachment, as it fell under the jurisdiction of the Parliament.
“NBA is the umbrella body of lawyers and cannot exceed its brief,” he added. Karna said the protesting lawyers had only ended boycott of court proceedings but their struggle was not over. “On the impeachment issue, we’ll wait for a month as per the agreement. If the NBA did not raise the issue after a month, we’ll decide our next course of action,” he said. The seven-point agreement states that JC’s decision was a violation of Article 42 of the constitution and Section 5 (1) of the Judicial Council Act.
Both sides agreed to insert the term ‘proportional’ ahead of the term ‘inclusion’ in the deal the NBA had signed with the SC. That pact states that appointment of judges will be done on the basis of competency and inclusion in future.
LCC and NBA also decided to wait till the verdicts are delivered on the cases failed against the Judicial Council’s decision to appoint 80 High Court judges.
Both sides also agreed to produce photocopies of the Judicial Council’s decision as evidence on the cases filed against JC’s decision in the Supreme Court.
Karna said the LCC would also seek change in the structure of Judicial Council, as its current structure gave space for political interference.
He pointed out that Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs is a member of JC; one JC member is appointed by the prime minister and another member is recommended by the NBA. “These three members can influence decisions of JC,” said Karna. Both sides agreed to form a task force and seek its report in three months on necessary changes in JC’s structure.
Lawyers from Province 2 had threatened to form a parallel bar association after NBA signed an agreement on January 31 that did not mention proportional inclusion as one of the grounds for appointment of judges.
After today’s pact the protesting lawyers withdrew their decision to resign from NBA units.
A version of this article appears in print on February 12, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.