TOPICS: Soft target

The long awaited nomination of judges in the Supreme Court by the Judicial Council has received mixed responses from the political community.

Be it the political bickering from Nepali Congress citing the composition of the Parliamentary Hearing Committee or the issue of non-inclusiveness by a group of indigenous lawyers.

However, the nomination of a former lawmaker and human rights activist Sapana Pradhan Malla has been much talked about and has been debated as a potential conflict of interest issue.

Having worked under her, I have no qualms in admitting my bias in her nomination but since it has been made a question of ethics for both the Judicial Council as well as the nominee herself without analyzing the legality and the good practices of other countries is what has compelled me to write about it.

Also the fact that a former president of the Nepal Bar Association and Former Attorney General’s nomination (both are political positions) is seen as a non-political nomination is what is more baffling.

With talks though tenuous of Barack Obama being appointed in the bench if Clinton becomes the President in the United States receiving a warm response, the opposite has been the case for Senior Advocate Sapana Pradhan Malla who fulfills all the criteria but is still perceived as a former CA member and someone who has worked her life in non-government organizations ignoring all her credentials and accolades.

The fact that she is not the first person in the world to be nominated as a judge of the apex court after having served as a lawmaker also supports her case. Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer who was a human rights crusader and famous for his decisions on social justice, was a former lawmaker of the Madras Legislative Assembly.

Finding a soft target is not a new in Nepal. The anguish of those who were sidelined in favour of Malla’s nomination is clear as they have suddenly raised this conflict of interest issue despite holding the party ticket themselves.

Furthermore, the other political appointments are not termed political despite their long term political connections.

From the legal and ethical standpoint the nomination bears the notion of good faith and impartiality, but there will always be many who do not create a mole out of a molehill but a new molehill altogether.

Subin Mulmi is a human rights lawyer working in Forum for Women, Law and Development.