Parties bicker over appointment of High Court judgesThe constitutional deadline to transform appellate courts into High Courts will end in less than three weeks. But the ruling alliance and opposition parties, like on many other issues, are at odds over the appointment of judges as well.
The constitutional deadline to transform appellate courts into High Courts will end in less than three weeks. But the ruling alliance and opposition parties, like on many other issues, are at odds over the appointment of judges as well. And failure to iron out the differences will mean an obstacle in the constitution implementation process.
While the ruling alliance is for making the appointments proportionally inclusive, the opposition has objected to the call, saying proportional inclusion is not possible in the Supreme Court and High Courts. The opposition has said appointments can be made inclusive but not proportional.
Lawmakers from the two sides on Thursday had a heated discussion over the issue during a meeting of the Legislation Committee of Parliament. The meeting was called to finalise the Bill on Judicial Administration, Judicial Council and Judicial Service. Sadbhawana Party Lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna demanded that the provision of “inclusion” be replaced with “proportional inclusion”. The bill drafted by committee says “there will be inclusive appointment of judges in High Courts”.
Karna’s demand was supported by CPN (Maoist Centre) lawmakers, including Minister for Law Ajay Shankar Nayak. However, UML lawmakers opposed the call, saying that making appointment of judges in High Courts proportionally inclusive will not be practical.
They argued that judges of the Appellate Courts will automatically become High Court judges. “We are not against proportional inclusion. Our only concern is whether it will be practical,” said UML lawmaker Rewati Raman Bhandari. “However, we won’t create any hurdle in its endorsement.”
Article 139 of the constitution says “there shall be a High Court in each state” and Article 300 (3) says “high courts set forth in Article 139 shall be established no later than one year after the date of commencement of this constitution, and the Appellate Courts existing at the time of commencement of this constitution shall be dissolved after the establishment of such courts”, which implies that High Courts must come into existence before the third week of September.
The parties, however, agreed to appoint 160 judges after Nepali Congress lawmaker Radheshyam Adhikari agreed to withdraw his amendment which called for having only 77 judges.
According to UML’s Bhandari, one Appellate Court from each province will be named as the central office while others will be function as extended benches of the High Court. The central office must be located in the headquarters of the respective province, said Bhandari.
But it will be interesting to see if high courts can be formed within the given constitutional deadline given the persisting confusion over the number of states, as the agitating parties have been demanding redrawing of provincial boundaries with at least two provinces in the Tarai plains. Hence, finding a solution on the “head office” is going to be a daunting task.
Lawmakers from the House committee said the Biratnagar-based Appellate Court will most likely be the main office of the High Court in Province 1, Janakpur for Province 2, Patan for Province 3 and Pokhara for Province 4. The Tulsipur-based Appellate Court could be the main
office for High Court in Province 5, Surkhet for Province 6 and Mahendra-nagar for Province 7.