Politics of syndicatesThe political leadership has come under greater public scrutiny in recent years. The fact that two new parties fared well in the recent local level elections in Kathmandu is perhaps a strong indicator that the Nepali public perceives major parties as insular institutions that are more concerned about partisan interests than those of the people
The political leadership has come under greater public scrutiny in recent years.
The fact that two new parties fared well in the recent local level elections in Kathmandu is perhaps a strong indicator that the Nepali public perceives major parties as insular institutions that are more concerned about partisan interests than those of the people.
The thesis that the top leaders in the political parties are corrupt and even running ‘syndicates’ subverting the principle of check and balance, the bedrock of democracy, has been increasingly documented in the mass media.
But when the scale of the undemocratic practices is revealed by the chief justice, it becomes a matter of deep concern.
Chief Justice Shushila Karki has had an open fallout with the ruling party leadership—the incoming prime minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and outgoing Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The political leadership applauded her when it was convenient to them: when the Supreme Court upheld the impeachment motion filed against Lokman Singh Karki, then chief of the Commission of Investigation Abuse of authority (CIAA).
The story has it that the CIAA boss was all set to make public a number of charges on the investigation of abuse of authority by top political guns. Hence the hasty impeachment motion in Parliament against the unruly Lokman to pre-empt the strike.
Now in a damning interview with the Nepal weekly, Chief Justice Karki has said that Prime Minisiter Dahal had pressured her to postpone hearing on the Lokman Singh case as long as Dahal was in office.
“I have to tell the truth now that I am all to leave [the Supreme Court]. He [PM Dahal] called me and said that I had created a ruckus. ‘I have been threatened by Lokman Singh. I am in this chair for seven more months, please put the case on hold and make a decision after I leave’”, Karki quoted PM Dahal as telling her.
Karki has also claimed that she met Prime Minister Dahal on three occasions at his behest as she saw these meetings between the head of the executive and judiciary as a political courtesy in a democratic society.
But he would not only make unreasonable demands during these meetings, but would try to spread lies about these meetings.
He would insist that ‘all was well’ between CJ Karki and him, hinting that they were on the same page about outstanding court cases.
Both Prime Minister Dahal and his possible successor in Baluwatar, Deuba, and the larger ruling class, will have to respond to her accusation that they have regarded themselves as “supreme” and hence above the rule of law, much like the ‘king’ in the days gone by.
The CJ’s remarks, days before she’s scheduled to leave office, also points at deep deviation in our political culture: that the political party syndicates have now even infiltrated the courts, including the Supreme Court.
This is because many of the judges are appointed on party quotas, rather than competence, and many still want to be in the good books of the political party leadership so that they can get appointments in important government positions after their retirement of the judiciary.