Friday, December 30, 2005

SC Judges Appointments Criticised

Kathmandu, Dec 30-Human rights organisations and activists expressed serious doubts over the independence of the judiciary .They criticised Wednesday's appointment of four ad hoc judges at the Supreme Court claiming that the autocratic royal regime has started to interfere in the independent judiciary.

With the consent of the King, Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Paudel, appointed former Attorney General Prof Pawan Kumar Ojha, two acting chief judges of Appellate Courts Tahir Ali Ansari and Rajendra Prasad Koirala and senior advocate Bipulendra Chakravarti as the ad hoc judges in the Supreme Court.

Ojha had been controversial after he supported the February 1 royal takeover in the apex court and claimed that the King has authority to issue any kind of order by activating Article 127 of the Constitution. He had also claimed that the King has the power to issue any order, with the capacity of the Hindu Monarch, to protect the country.Senior Advocate Chakrabarti is the close relative of king-nominated regional administrator, Rabindra Chakrabarti. The government has already appointed Senior Advocate Laxmi Bahadur Nirala as Ojha’s successor. Nirala was the chief of the civic committee formed to felicitate King Gyanendr in Janakpur last year.Judge Koirala’s decision, as an appellate court judge, on a Gold Quest Scandal was later on reversed by the supreme court. He had acquitted the main accused Filipino national, who immediately fled the county.

In a press release, human rights activists including two former members of the National Human Rights Commission Sushil Pyakurel and Prof Kapil Shrestha have urged the Supreme Court leadership to protect the supremacy of the Constitution as well as the independence of the judiciary.

In a joint statement, Subodh Pyakurel from the Informal Sector Service Centre, INHURED International Nepal's Dr Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, Mandira Sharma from Advocacy Forum, Dr Bhogendra Sharma from the Centre for Victims of Torture and Human Rights Nepal's Charan Prasain criticised the appointments.

Nepal Bar Association (NBA), the umbrella organization of the lawyers, has said the appointment of those who have been supporting publicly the February 1 move and “unconstitutional” activities of the present regime in the Supreme Court will be unacceptable. Making its protest public, the NBA in a statement issued said that appointments of pro-palace people as lawyers would be unacceptable to it. NBA also warned that the Judicial Council will be responsible for any consequences if the latter ignores its concerns over the appointment of judges."With these appointments, it seems it may lead the judiciary to be a branch of the executive led by the King," the statement reads.They also expressed solidarity to support the movement of the Nepal Bar Association to oppose an attack on the independent of the judiciary.The NBA has said that it would hold a meeting to discuss on the appointments and to decide protest programmes against them.

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