Dahal and Oli meet, but no agreement yet on chief justiceThe main opposition CPN-UML is also looking for the leadership of several parliamentary thematic committees.
After the failure of the Constitutional Council in nominating a candidate for chief justice, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Friday had a meeting with CPN-UML chair KP Sharma Oli to discuss nominations and endorsement of the bills in parliament.
Dahal's attempt was to woo Oli, who is the leader of the main opposition, to ensure that the next meeting of the council would be fruitful while also getting several bills endorsed. The two also discussed constituting thematic committees of the House of Representatives. However, there was no agreement.
“The prime minister and the leader of the main opposition discussed three issues—meeting of the Constitutional Council, endorsement of the bills, and forming House committees. The meeting was very positive although no formal agreement was reached,” Govinda Acharya, press advisor to Dahal, told the Post. “Both the leaders agreed that it has already been too late to appoint the chief justice.”
The council’s meeting on Wednesday failed to agree on the chief justice candidate. Led by the prime minister, the speaker and deputy speaker, the National Assembly chair, the chief justice and the leader of the main opposition are the members of the council. The law minister replaces the chief justice if the meeting is called to pick a new chief justice.
The Supreme Court has been led by the acting chief justice ever since an impeachment motion was registered at the previous House of Representatives against then Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana in February last year. Deepak Kumar Karki, who succeeded Rana, retired as an acting chief justice.
Hari Krishna Karki has been leading the judiciary as acting chief justice since September last year. However, it is still unsure when the Supreme Court will get chief justice. Dahal, including other parties, want endorsement of the Constitutional Council Act from parliament before nominating a new chief justice. The UML is taking it as an opportunity to bargain for the leadership in four out of 10 committees under the lower house.
Acharya said Dahal will hold a meeting with the major parties before reaching any decision on forming House committees. “We expect the upcoming meeting of the lower house will constitute the House committees,” he said. The next House meeting has been called for Tuesday.
The nominee for the chief justice must go through a parliamentary hearing before getting appointed by the President. The federal parliament needs to constitute the Parliamentary Hearing Committee with the members from both the Houses for the hearing of the nominee for the position.
In addition to the chief justice, the Supreme Court has four justice positions vacant. Similarly, 42 judges positions at High Courts and 40 at district courts are also lying vacant.
The Nepal Bar Association (NBA) has long been demanding the appointment of the chief justice and fill the vacant positions in the different tiers of court. The association on April 12 also issued a 10-day ultimatum to the authorities to nominate the chief justice.
The council’s meeting hasn’t been fixed yet.
“We are concerned about the delay in filling the vacant positions. The NBA on Sunday will make public a protest programme to pressure the authorities concerned to nominate the chief justice,” Gopal Krishna Ghimire, the NBA president, told the Post. “The delay in the appointment has affected justice delivery.”
It will take around a month to appoint the chief of the judiciary after nomination.