Nepal | October 20, 2019

Supreme Court stays impeachment motion, reinstates CJ Karki

KESHAV P. KOIRALA
Sushila Karki during the parliamentary hearing before CJ appointment

FILE- Sushila Karki, who was nominated for the Chief Justice of Nepal, during the parliamentary hearing on July 10, 2016. Photo: RSS

KESHAV P. KOIRALA
KATHMANDU
: The Supreme Court of Nepal on Friday directed the stakeholders not to move forward the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Sushila Karki and immediately reinstate her in the judiciary.

Advocate Sunil Ranjan Singh on Wednesday had filed a writ petition, challenging the impeachment motion that the lawmakers of ruling Nepali Congress and CPN Maoist Centre moved against the Chief Justice on April 30. The hearing on the writ had begun yesterday.

A single bench of Justice Cholendra Shamsher Rana issued a stay order against the move today, observing that the allegations made against Chief Justice Karki were not on a par with the spirit of Nepal’s Constitution.

Referring to the principle of balance of convenience, Justice Rana ordered the defendants to put the impeachment motion and the CJ’s suspension letter on status quo, and let Chief Justice Karki to resume her office from today itself.

The interim order was issued in accordance with the the Rule 41(1) of the Supreme Court Regulation.

While moving the impeachment motion, the Nepali Congress and CPN Maoist Centre had accused Karki of interfering with the government’s executive role in the appointment of Nepal Police Chief and failing to bear her responsibilities impartially and efficiently.

Karki faced an automatic suspension after 249 lawmakers moved the motion against her.

Subsequently, Gopal Prasad Parajuli was appointed the Acting Chief Justice. He took part in the meetings of Constitutional Council that made nominations in two constitutional bodies  — Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and Office of the Auditor General.

Saying it was politically motivated, intended to thwart the verdicts on some high-profile cases, including the contempt of court charge against Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, and attack on judiciary, many have criticised the move to impeach Chief Justice Karki.

Earlier today, the opposition parties obstructed the House proceedings, demanding the withdrawal of the impeachment  motion.

Emotional order

Justice Rana’s order is rife with emotional notes.

“While issuing an interim order as sought by the plaintiff,” he said, “I feel weak, sad and agitated.”

“Since the day the impeachment motion was registered against the Chief Justice,” he added, “I have seen direct reflection of sadness on the face of all Justices in this institution [judiciary]. Doesn’t anybody have to feel this concern and situation? Isn’t this concern and situation for the independent judiciary established by Nepal’s Constitution?”

Justice Rana observed that all three organs of the state — executive, legislative and judiciay — as well as political parties and civil society were also agitated over the impeachment motion.

“Can’t the three organs of state sit together to resolve the issue?”

“It is said that this country is cursed by Sati. After this order, I feel all have to be careful. To liberate the country and people from the curse, I say, the court is the most sensitive organ of the state.”

Any impeachment motion against the Chief Justice and Justices can be considered constitutional, pragmatic and appropriate if they have deviated from conduct and delivery of justice, and allegations made against them are objective and provable in serious discussion among intellectuals and civil society, according to the order.

Otherwise, impeachment motion cannot be considered on a par with the spirit of the Constitution’s spirit.

“Nepal’s independent judiciary bases on the very spirit of Constitution, and it will continue to remain there. I am also committed to it.”

“Fiddling with the concept of independent judiciary can’t preserve the rights of any agency or people,” he said, adding that he cannot imagine what would happen if there was no independent judiciary.

“I have felt that it’s my duty to proceed with the beliefs and values that the path of independent judiciary should be preserved for the dignity of independent judiciary and coming generation.”

“The impeachment motion registered against Chief Justice Sushila Karki on April 30, 2017 shows that allegations made against her base on the verdict on the promotion of Nepal Police’s Inspector General, which is sub judice at the Supreme Court. But it did not base on the foundations as discussed above, it is observed at the first sight that the impeachment motion is not on a par with the spirit of Nepal’s Constitution.”

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