PHC defers confirmation of new chief justice

Kathmandu, July 27

The Parliamentary Hearing Committee, which was supposed to announce its decision on the confirmation or rejection of chief justice nominee Deepak Raj Joshee, postponed its meeting in the last hour today.

Acting Chief Justice Joshee, the sole nominee for the CJ, was grilled by members of the parliamentary panel for almost four hours yesterday.

PHC member Yogesh Bhattarai said the panel postponed in the last hour its meeting planned for today till 8:00 am on Sunday.

Senior-most member of the PHC Laxman Lal Karna, who chaired the PHC meeting yesterday, said the panel postponed the meeting because it thought that the Parliament meetings would go on for hours today. Asked if there was any issue that PHC members were still looking into, Karna said they had not discussed the matter and they would know about it only after they would sit for the next meeting on Sunday.

PHC member Suman Raj Pyakurel, who represents the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said the members of the PHC would weigh Acting CJ Joshee’s eligibility for the top post of the judiciary before taking a decision on his confirmation.

“Today we could not hold our panel’s meeting because we had to attend our party’s parliamentary party meeting and also a meeting of the House of Representatives,” he said.

Pyakurel said most of the PHC members were not satisfied with answers furnished by Joshee in the PHC hearing yesterday.

“There are some members in the PHC who feel that the kind of commitment that they expected from Joshee to end ‘corrupt practices in the judiciary’ did not come from him,” he added.

Pyakurel also said that there were some members in the PHC who did not find Joshee’s answers satisfactory on the judiciary’s role in the federal system. “We have adopted a quite new political system that aims to achieve the goals of socialism and I did not find Joshee’s responses suitable to this goal of the constitution,” he added. Pyakurel also said that PHC members were also concerned that the Supreme Court was issuing stay orders in cases involving huge revenue.

A member of the PHC, who represents the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said that Joshee skipped queries related to ‘corruption in judiciary.’ The member said while the possibility of Joshee being confirmed by the parliamentary panel was high, the panel was, however, free to take its decisions.

“Our party Chairpersons KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal have told us that we as PHC members are free to take our decisions independently. They have told us that they would not interfere in our decisions,” the member said.

He said the PHC members were not in favour of adopting the customary practice of the past when they endorsed all the nominees of the Constitutional Council. “We will set a new practice when we deem it right,” the member added.

The member said that a complainant from Bajura district lodged a fresh complaint at the PHC against Acting CJ Joshee alleging wrongdoing in a verdict which the PHC members would look into before taking a call on confirmation.