Congress youth leaders call for political intervention to clean up mess in judiciaryLeaders close to Prime Minister Deuba say the independence of judiciary should be honoured and Supreme Court should resolve the crisis on its own. Parties in the ruling coalition are also largely in favour of letting the court find its way out.
The ruling Nepali Congress is sharply divided over whether the embattled Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana should resign or he should be impeached. Two clear factions have emerged in the party over the recent developments in the judiciary where Supreme Court justices, members of Nepal Bar Association—the umbrella organisation of Nepali lawyers—and some legal experts have appealed to the political parties to impeach the chief justice.
In this context, 12 youth leaders of the Nepali Congress issued a statement on Friday, urging the party leadership not to remain silent as the crisis deepens in the judiciary, affecting justice delivery.
“It is clear that the judiciary cannot have independence if its leadership does not adopt good judicial conduct. Without freedom of the judiciary, it is not possible to protect liberal democracy,” the youth leaders said in the statement. “The Nepali Congress should lead the fight to clean up the judiciary.”
The statement was jointly issued by Gagan Thapa, Chandra Bhandari, Dhanraj Gurung, Kamala Pant, Ratna Sherchan, Badri Pandey, Jeevan Pariyar, Guru Ghimire, Pradip Poudel, Sarita Prasai, Ram Krishna Yadav and Kiran Yadav. They belong to the anti-Deuba camp in the Congress party.
Their statement indicates the division inside the party as the rival factions pile pressure on the establishment side to take a concrete step towards resolving the crisis in the judiciary, a Congress leader said.
Deuba faction leaders have largely maintained a “neutral” position on the matter, saying that the judiciary itself should seek a remedy for the lingering crisis.
“We have seen that the ruling alliance and opposition are divided over the issue. We believe that the solution should be sought through larger political consultation and consensus. Asking Nepali Congress to seek resignation of Chief Justice Rana or to initiate an impeachment motion against him is not going to help the situation,” the leader said.
He said the crisis in the judiciary was not a new phenomenon nor was it the job of only the Nepali Congress to clean up the current mess.
“The entire judicial system needs an overhaul. This cannot be achieved easily,” he said.
However, the Congress youth leaders say that the party should at least take the lead in facilitating the judiciary’s institutional development, and promoting impartiality of the judiciary and its freedom.
“There are different views inside the party but our position is clear. The judiciary, the executive and the legislative should be strengthened,” senior Congress leader Arjun Narsingh KC told the Post.
KC said that the major state organs becoming weak was a matter of grave concern.
“To defuse the tension inside the court, either the chief justice should resign or the political parties should initiate the process to impeach him,” KC said. “We can also form a judicial committee to look into the matter and take a decision as per its suggestion. If the judiciary itself does not find the remedy, the political leadership should step in.”
Meanwhile, the opposition CPN-UML has indirectly stood in the support of Chief Justice Rana, saying four other Supreme Court judges who were part of the Constitutional Bench that issued the order to remove UML chair KP Sharma Oli from the post of prime minister should also resign.
Parties in the ruling alliance, on the other hand, are largely in favour of the judiciary finding a solution to its internal crisis without political intervention.
Janata Samajbadi Party Chairman Upendra Yadav said he was not abreast of the developments in the Supreme Court because he was out of Kathmandu. He, however, was of the view that the crisis inside the court should be resolved by the court itself.
Two other parties in the ruling coalition, CPN (Maoist Centre) and CPN (Unified Socialist) also want the Supreme Court to find its own solution.
Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN (Unified Socialist) chair Madhav Kumar Nepal have said the court should resolve the crisis on its own and that the matter of impeaching the chief justice has not been discussed in the ruling alliance.
“We [the ruling alliance] have not taken any position,” Congress leader Ram Hari Khatiwda said. “It is not good to politicise the judiciary and we don’t want to intervene in its matter.”
He said seeking a political solution to the crisis in the judiciary should be the last resort.
“The bench boycott by the Supreme Court justices in protest against Chief Justice Rana has denied justice to justice seekers. They should review their actions. They should not be the ones hindering justice delivery. They should look into the cases independently,” said Khatiwada.
Prime Minister Deuba, too, is in favour of allowing the judiciary to find a solution to the ongoing crisis.
A leader close to Deuba said the prime minister has consulted with many leaders and ministers about the crisis in the judiciary and that he is confident that the judiciary itself will find a solution to the crisis.
The leader said most of the senior Nepali Congress leaders also feel the same way—that the judiciary is capable of finding a way out of the current mess.
Nepali Congress leader Dila Sangraula said there has been no discussion in the party on seeking the chief justice’s resignation or impeaching him.
“Nepali Congress has not sought the resignation of Chief Justice Rana. Independence of the judiciary is one of the cornerstones of democracy. Whatever is going inside the Supreme Court is a matter of the judiciary and the Nepali Congress is not involved in it,” Sangraula told the Post.
“And if the need arises for political intervention, it should be discussed within the ruling alliance. There’s no such scenario yet where the political leadership should decide if this issue should be settled by the court itself or by Parliament.”