Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Nepal Sushila Karki (Republica file photo)
KATHMANDU, May 5: The Supreme Court on Friday issued a stay order to parliament not to move forward with the impeachment motion brought against Chief Justice Sushila Karki, and to immediately allow her to resume work in her capacity as chief justice.
A single bench of Justice Cholendra SJB Rana said that the impeachment motion was prima facie against the spirit of the constitution.
Altogether 249 lawmakers from the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN (Maoist Center) had registered an impeachment motion against Chief Justice Karki at the Parliament Secretariat on Sunday. The impeachment motion proposed by NC lawmaker Meen Bishwakarma and seconded by Maoist Center lawmaker Tek Bahadur Basnet had listed nine various allegations against Karki, including failure to honor the independence of the judiciary, encroaching upon the jurisdiction of the executive branch, and ignoring the evidence while ruling on writ petitions related to the appointment of the police chief.
Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar had scheduled a House meeting at 1 p.m. on Friday to table the impeachment motion. But the meeting could not proceed as the main opposition CPN-UML obstructed the well.
Meanwhile, the apex court, responding to the writ petition filed by Advocate Sunil Ranjan Singh, issued the stay order and ordered that Karki be allowed to resume work in her capacity as chief justice.
Stating that the motion was registered on the basis of a sub-judice case concerning the IGP promotion and a verdict related to it, the court said the stated basis of the impeachment motion was not in line with the spirit of the constitution and the independence of the judiciary.
"The judiciary is a very sensitive organ of the state. An impeachment motion against a chief justice or judge could be considered constitutional, feasible and appropriate only if the conclusions of serious discussions at academic level and the level of civil society on whether or not the conduct, behavior and delivery of justice by the said chief justice or judge have been deviant are objective and backed by evidence. Unless such a situation obtains, an impeachment motion could not be considered to be in line with the spirit of the constitution," states the court order.
"If the principle of independence of the judiciary is subjected to meddling, we cannot protect the rights of any state organ or of the citizen," the court order further reads.
Justice Rana, in his order, said he felt saddened, moved and stressed while issuing the order and added that the impeachment motion cast a shadow on the face of all judges and damaged morale.
"I cannot imagine what would happen if there is no independence of the judiciary. I consider it my duty to see to it that the independence of the judiciary remains a constant for the sake of its dignity and safety and for the sake of future generations," Justice Rana said.
The court has also issued show cause notices to all the defendants to present their arguments in the case within 15 days.
Following the court order, Chief Justice Karki resumed her duties on Friday evening.
According to SC Deputy Spokesperson Biswaraj Paudel, Karki signed some administrative documents from her official residence Friday and took charge of the judiciary.