Ruling party members in signature drive to ‘impeach’ Justice JosheeLawmakers from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have initiated a signature campaign to file an impeachment motion against Supreme Court Justice Deepak Raj Joshee, party members have said.
Lawmakers from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) have initiated a signature campaign to file an impeachment motion against Supreme Court Justice Deepak Raj Joshee, party members have said.
The move follows Joshee’s return to the apex court after he was rejected by the Parliamentary Hearing Committee (PHC) for the chief justice post.
The PHC on August 3 rejected Joshee’s nomination with a two-thirds majority, citing his controversial rulings as justice, questionable academic credentials, and failure to present a convincing work plan to lead the judiciary.
“We have collected signatures necessary for registering an impeachment motion against Joshee. We’ll file the motion if he refuses to resign,” said NCP Chief Whip Dev Prasad Gurung, arguing that Joshee had disrespected the decision of the hearing committee. “It’s parliamentary privilege to register an impeachment motion.”
As instructed by the party earlier on Thursday, signatures were collected at the Lhotse Hall of the federal parliament in New Baneshwor and the NCP Parliamentary Party in Singha Durbar. The party is perceived to have rushed the drive as Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli leaves for the United States on Saturday to attend the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York.
Some lawmakers say it was not entirely clear whether the signature campaign is actually to impeach Joshee or to simply put pressure on him to resign.
Some NCP leaders said the party will register the motion against Joshee in Parliament if he attends the apex court on Friday.
In an interview with the Post, Joshee appeared defiant and said he would not resign regardless of what the lawmakers do. “I have nothing to say. Let them do whatever they wish,” Joshee said. “Why should I resign?”
Immediately after his rejection by the PHC, Joshee was asked by most Supreme Court justices to quit on moral ground. However, he refused to resign and took almost a month-long leave from the court. When Om Prakash Mishra was appointed the new chief justice, Joshee was first at the apex court to welcome him. After he started hearing cases, legal experts questioned his continued role, arguing that it could affect smooth functioning of the top court. Party sources told the Post that some NCP lawmakers had sent a message to him to resign after he returned to the court following Mishra’s appointment.
If registered, the impeachment motion against Joshee will be the third since 2016. In October 2016, lawmakers from the erstwhile CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre) registered such motion against Lokman Singh Karki, who headed the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority.
In January the following year, the Supreme Court disqualified Karki as the CIAA chief, arguing that he did not hold the “high moral character” required for leading the office. At that point, the impeachment motion against him did not conclude in Parliament.
Last year, Nepali Congress lawmakers registered an impeachment motion against then chief justice Sushila Karki. It was later withdrawn after the apex court issued an interim order directing Parliament to put the motion on hold, allowing Karki to return to the judiciary.
As per Article 101 (2) of the constitution, one fourth of the total number of sitting members of the House of Representatives can move a motion of impeachment against the chief justice or a judge of the Supreme Court, a member of the Judicial Council, and the chief or an official of a constitutional body on the ground of his or her failure to fulfill their duties of office.
The accused is suspended automatically once the motion is filed.