Legislative hurdle set to cause delaysEven as the Judicial Council (JC) on Tuesday evening recommended 11 legal experts as justices of Supreme Court, a major legislative hurdle remains in their appointment with the major parties at odds over forming the parliamentary hearing special committee.
Even as the Judicial Council (JC) on Tuesday evening recommended 11 legal experts as justices of Supreme Court, a major legislative hurdle remains in their appointment with the major parties at odds over forming the parliamentary hearing special committee.
The nominees are required to undergo a parliamentary hearing before being appointed as justices. In the absence of parliamentary hearing mechanism, chances of immediate appointment of justices are slim, according to legal experts.
A dispute among ruling and opposition parties over the size of the parliamentary hearing committee has already delayed the finalisation of parliamentary hearing regulation—putting on hold the appointment of nominee for the position of Chief Election Commissioner. Ayodhee Prasad Yadav was recommended for the post in December last year.
“Although justice nomination seems balanced, well thought out and good combination of experts and professional lawyers, parliamentary hearing may appear as technical problem,” said constitutional lawyer Hari Phuyal.
The Parliamentary Secretariat is in a fix on how to conduct public hearing with the major parties disagreeing over size of public hearing. “It is not yet clear how to proceed parliamentary hearing because we have not yet finalised regulation floated to form the hearing committee,” said Sudarshan Kuinkel, assistant spokesperson for Parliament.
The opposition, including Nepali Congress and other fringe parties, wants continuation of the 73-member hearing committee, while the CPN-UML-led ruling alliance is in favour of reducing its size as provisioned in the new constitution.
The new charter envisages a 15-member parliamentary hearing committee comprising members from both the House of Representatives and National Assembly. The opposition parties are of the view that the 15-member committee cannot have representation of all the parties in the Legislature-Parliament. Currently there are 31 parties, including two independent lawmakers.
Citing the lack of public hearing committee and regulation, the KP Sharma Oli-led government had withdrawn the decision taken by the preceding Sushil Koirala-led government to appoint Ram Prasad Sitaula as Judicial Council member.
Kunikel said the fate of hearing largely depends upon consensus among the major political parties.
“Appointing justices in the apex court is an urgent task while we are in the phase of implementing constitution and we have done our best from our side,” said Law Minister Agni Kharel, adding, “The appointment made in accordance with the constitution should not be delayed under any pretext.”
On Tuesday evening, the Judicial Council had recommended Deepak Kumar Karki, Kedar Prasad Chaliese, Shadara Prasad Ghimire, Mira Khadka, Hari Krishna Karki as apex court justices. Other recommended names included Bishwabar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, Anil Sinha, Prakash Man Singh Raut and Sapana Pradhan Malla.
Nepal Bar Association President Karki, who was working as Attorney General until recently, had resigned from the post before being recommended as justice.
The new constitution has a provision to have 21 permanent justices in the Supreme Court contrary to the past tradition of having 15 justices with permanent status beside temporary justices. Four positions of justices were lying vacant before the new constitution was adopted in September while one more justice, Girish Chandra Lal, retired taking the number of vacant positions to five.