Legality of move questioned

Kathmandu, July 16

Legal luminaries have put a question mark over the legality of Neelkantha Uprety’s nomination as Nepal’s new ambassador to India.

Article 245 (8) of the constitution stipulates that a person once appointed as the chief election commissioner and a commissioner of the Election Commission shall not be eligible for appointment in other government services.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Radhe Shyam Adhikari, who is also a senior advocate, said justices of the Supreme Court and commissioners of the Election Commission were barred from joining any office of profit, mainly because such a restriction was necessary to ensure independent discharge of duties by the justices and the commissioners of the EC.

“If justices of the SC and commissioners of the EC are allowed to join offices of political position after retirement, then they could fall prey to the government’s enticements, affecting their functioning,” he added.

Constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya said the issue was a matter of interpretation as the constitution stated that retired commissioners of the EC could assume political positions. “But there is a strong argument that since ambassadors are paid from the consolidated fund, their posts are also considered government service,” he added.

Another constitutional expert, Tika Ram Bhattarai, said the constitution did not bar retired commissioners of the EC from joining the office of profit. “As far as the question of morality is concerned, it depends on the government and the person concerned.”