Legal tangle hinders appointment of SC ad hoc judges
Kathmandu, August 17:
Confusion is shrouding the process of appointment of ad hoc judges of the Supreme Court.
While some members of the legal fraternity argue that there is no need to conduct a parliamentary hearing before the appointment of the ad hoc judges, others say the hearing is a must for the ad hoc judges, as they, like permanent judges of the apex court, have the authority to decide cases and draw salary from the state treasury.
The Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007 states that a parliamentary hearing should be conducted before appointing judges of the apex court on a permanent basis.
It may be noted that Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel-headed Judicial Council has been working to appoint the ad hoc judges in the Supreme Court.
“Yes, there is confusion regarding the process of appointment of the ad hoc judges,” Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Narendra Bikram Nembang, told this daily.
“We have been thinking of ways to remove the confusion shrouding the process of appointment of the ad hoc judges,” Nembang, also an ex-officio member of the Judicial Council, said. Nembang said he will hold consultations with Speaker Subas Nembang to put an end to the confusion.
Article 155 (1) of the Interim Constitution states that parliamentary hearing should be conducted before the appointment of Supreme Court Justices, officials of constitutional bodies and ambassadors.
Seven ad hoc judges are to be appointed in the apex court and five chief judges in appellate courts. The Judicial Council has been doing homework to appoint the judges. According to a source, the Judicial Council will expedite the process of appointment because the incumbent CJ Paudel is going to retire on September 7.
Vice president of the Nepal Bar Association, Hari Prasad Uprety, argued that the parliamentary hearing should be conducted before the appointment of the ad hoc judges.
“The hearing should be conducted even before the appointment of ad hoc judges because they also work as judges of the Supreme Court,” he added. “Why should the would-be ad hoc judges not face the hearing as their work is no different from that of permanent judges?”
“The ad hoc judges can even be members of Chief Justice’s bench and they have the same legal authority like that of the Chief Justice,” Uprety argued.
“Like judges, ad hoc judges possess the authority to decide cases. Apart from that, they also withdraw salary from the state treasury. So why should they not face parliamentary hearing?”
According to another source, a member of the Judicial Council, Motikaji Sthapit, has been looking into the matter in the light of international practices.
Some SC judges, however, said that ad hoc judges should not face the parliamentary hearing as they are different from permanent judges. “They do not have to face impeachment.
The Judicial Council terminates their service if they (ad hoc judges) fail to discharge their duties. Keeping these facts into account, there is no need to conduct the parliamentary hearing prior to the appointment of the ad hoc judges,” a senior judge told this daily.