Nepal | July 16, 2020

Rift in JC over names, seniority list

• APPOINTMENT OF SC JUSTICES

Himalayan News Service
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Supreme Court (SC) of Nepal has questioned Cabinet expansion.

Supreme Court of Nepal. Photo: THT/File

Kathmandu, February 26

Differences in the Judicial Council over who should be the new justices of the Supreme Court and who should be recommended on the top of the list is delaying the appointment of justices in the Supreme Court.

A knowledgeable source said Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Agni Prasad Kharel wants to recommend Attorney General Hari Krishna Karki on the top of the nominees’ list so that he could become chief justice after Cholendra Shamsher JB Rana but Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha wants Chief Judge of Appellate Court, Hetauda, Bishwambhar Prasad Shrestha on the top of the nominees’ list.

Minister Kharel, however, said the issue had not yet been discussed in the JC and was merely a media created controversy. When asked if the JC under Shrestha would be able to appoint new SC justices, Kharel said the issue would be discussed in 3-4 days. Shrestha will retire as CJ in six weeks.

New justices could not be appointed on the vacant positions of the apex court during former chief justice Ram Kumar Prasad Sah’s tenure mainly due to the differences over names and seniority lists and some jurists expressed doubts that if JC did not nominate new SC justice soon, it might not be able to do so during Shrestha’s tenure.

Five-member JC has only three members, as Nepal Bar Association and prime minister are yet to recommend nominees to the JC.

The Central Committee of the Nepali Congress urged the government a few days ago to nominate SC justices only after two more nominees are recommended to the JC.

Chief of SC Bar Narahari Acharya said the appointment of justices in the SC could be free from controversy only if the JC recommended names after it got full shape.

NBA Vice Chair Tika Ram Bhattarai said the NBA was not recommending anybody to the JC mainly because it would be meaningless in the absence of the Parliamentary Hearing Committee.

“JC has taken decisions to transfer lower court judges and has also taken some punitive actions. I believe that JC is free to appoint SC justices even if there are only three members in the body,” Bhattarai added.

Minister Kharel said he did not believe that NC had decided that the JC should nominate new SC justices only after it got full shape. “If the NC has made this decision, then it is against the independence of judiciary,” he added.

As per the new constitution, there need to be 21 justices, including the chief justice, but there are only 10 justices.

SC has more than 21,301 cases to dispose, but due to delay in appointment of justices, the apex court is able to dispose not more than 60 cases a day.


A version of this article appears in print on February 27, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.


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