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Judges for high courts: Govt lawyers object to JC recommendations

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu
Government attorneys have warned that they will stop participating in hearings on behalf of the Judicial Council from Sunday to protest the JC decision

Jan 17, 2017-Government attorneys and officials at the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) have taken serious exception to last week’s Judicial Council (JC) decision of recommending 80 judges for High Courts, saying the constitutional failed to stick to the principle of inclusion and proportion representation as guaranteed by the constitution. 

They have also warned that they will not participate in hearings on behalf of the Judicial Council from January 22. 

Of the four special class and 31 first class officers, only one have been recommended as High Court judges. 

The chief justice-led JC late on Thursday night had decided to recommend 80 judges. 

Baidhyanath Upadhyay, a JC member as the seniormost justice of the JC, however, had refused to sign the decision, and Ram Prasad Sitaula, another JC member representing the Nepal Bar Association, was not present in the meeting. 

At a press meet organised by the Government Lawyer Society on Monday, Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha termed the JC decision “arbitrary”. 

“The selection is neither based on seniority nor on individual performance,” said Shrestha, adding, “Government attorneys have every right to know the criteria. The judges were handpicked overstepping constitutional provision of inclusion.” 

A joint statement issued by the government attorneys and OAG officials has also criticised Chief Justice Sushila Karki, who heads the five-member JC, for failing “to make a judicious decision”. 

“Chief justice, as the patron of the judiciary and chair of the JC, seems to have lost conscience when it came to differentiating between just and unjust [decisions]. This is unfortunate,” read the statement. The recommendation made on Thursday night after a series of meetings was opposed on Friday also by the Nepal Bar Association, which has called for a review. 

The JC has met with massive criticism from many quarters over its recommendation, with some charging it with preferring nepotism and favouritism to competence while appointing the judges. 

The JC has also courted controversy for recommending people close to political parties.

Of the 80 judges appointed, 18 are said to be close to the Nepali Congress, six to the CPN (Maoist Centre) and five are said to be close to the main opposition CPN-UML. Some appointees are said to be relatives of ministers, leaders and top officials. 

Meanwhile, the Tarai Human Rights Defenders Alliance has said it is preparing to move the court, challenging the JC decision, as it has failed to follow the spirit of inclusion and proportional representation. Of the 80 individuals recommended as HC judges, 83.75 percent, or 62 persons, are from Khas Arya group that accounts for 31.25 of the country’s population. 

Only four persons, or 5 percent, from the Madhesi community that constitutes 14.83 percent of the total population have been picked as HC judges. Janajatis, except Newars and Tharus, constitute 24.2 percent of the total population, but only three persons (or 3.75 percent of the 80 recommended) have been picked as HC judges. 

There is one representation each of Pahadi Dalit, Tharu and Muslim, while five Newars have been recommended as judges for High Courts. 

Published: 17-01-2017 08:13

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