PHC rejects Joshee for CJ’s post

Kathmandu, August 3

The Parliamentary Hearing Committee today rejected chief justice nominee Deepak Raj Joshee on the basis of two-thirds majority, even as four lawmakers representing the Nepali Congress in the panel walked out.

This is the first time in Nepal’s parliamentary history that a CJ nominee has been rejected by the PHC.

Nepali Congress lawmakers   — Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, Pushpa Bhusal, Jitendra Narayan Dev and Bhimsen Das Pradhan — boycotted the voting process, saying the ability and eligibility of CJ nominee Joshee had already been tested by the Constitutional Council, which recommended his name - and there was no reason for the PHC to reject him.

Nine Nepal Communist Party (NCP)  lawmakers — Yogesh Bhattarai, Surendra Pandey, Purna Kumari Subedi, Amrita Thapa, Niru Pal, Parwat Gurung, Shiva Kumar Mandal Kewat, Nanda Chapai and Suman Raj Pyakurel — and one lawmaker from Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal,  Rajendra Shrestha, voted in favour of rejection.

Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna did not have to cast his vote as he chaired the meeting. Joshee later told THT that the PHC decision suppressed the truth.

After the rejection vote, NCP (NCP) member Yogesh Bhattarai read out ruling parties’ arguments submitted to the panel to reject Joshee’s name for the post of CJ.

He said Joshee failed to present solid work plan and his vision to lead the judiciary. Bhattarai added that Joshee failed to give satisfactory answers to questions posed by lawmakers about his conduct, integrity and capability.

“The proposed candidate’s academic certificates issued by the education institution he had attended were suspicious and discrepancies in his date of birth also made it controversial. He neither produced adequate evidence nor furnished satisfactory answers to our questions,” Bhattarai said.

Bhattarai said former justices and justices had condemned his public conduct and past performances. Moreover, he failed to give positive examples of his contribution to the judiciary.

Four NC lawmakers, on the other hand, submitted a written note to the panel stating that the Constitutional Council had already tested Joshee’s ability and eligibility before recommending his name.

The PHC cannot invalidate the grounds on which this recommendation was made, the NC lawmakers stated. They said they believed that the CC had nominated Joshee for the CJ keeping in mind his social prestige, character, integrity, public sentiment towards him, his past services and his experience. “It is in this backdrop we cannot agree with those lawmakers who want to reject CJ nominee without any reason or basis,” the NC lawmakers said in their statement.

NCP (NCP) lawmaker Suman Raj Pyakurel said PHC members had used their sovereign right to reject the CJ nominee for the first time. “This decision will deter nepotism and favouritism in constitutional appointments,” he added.

Senior Advocate Surendra Kumar Mahto said although Joshee was rejected by the PHC for CJ, he could continue as a justice of the Supreme Court till the age of 65. “Joshee has no constitutional hurdle to continue his job as a justice of the SC, as he has already been endorsed for this job,” he said. When asked if Joshee should resign on moral grounds, Mahto said the question of morality depended purely on the person concerned.