KATHMANDU, Dec 4: The cabinet is likely to bring an ordinance Tuesday to skip the process of parliamentary hearings for judge appointments, just a day before the Supreme Court (SC) will be left with only six permanent justices including the chief justice.
Following assurance from Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, who is also looking after the law and justice portfolio, to bring an ordinance in this regard, the Judicial Council on Monday held discussion on making recommendation to skip the process of parliamentary hearings for judge appointments.
Sources claimed that a meeting of the council called for Tuesday will recommend appointing judges without conducting the mandatory parliamentary hearings in the absence of parliament now.
"The issue of judiciary is everyone´s concern. So, hope something will happen by tomorrow [to address the issue of appointment of judges]," said Khem Narayan Dhungana, a member of the Judicial Council.
When asked about the government´s preparation to bring an ordinance to skip the process of parliamentary hearings, Dhungana stated, "If the process of parliamentary hearings is skipped, it will pave the way to appoint judges in the courts and there is maximum possibility of this happening."
He said that the prime minister has been trying to forge consensus among political parties to fill the vacancies at the Supreme Court. "Let us hope that the problem will be resolved through political consensus," Dhungana added.
At an informal meeting of the council on Sunday evening, Prime Minister Bhattarai had assured Chief Justice Khila Raj Regmi that the government would bring an ordinance to resolve the issue.
In a bid to win opposition support to the planned ordinance, Bhattarai on Monday held discussion with Nepali Congress (NC) President Sushil Koirala at the latter´s resident at Maharajgunj.
NC leader Ram Sharan Mahat said that NC would cooperate to address the problem.
The prime minister also called on the president on Monday and held discussion on the issue.
However, constitutional experts and lawyers said that government cannot forward such an ordinance. "It will be unconstitutional if the government brings an ordinance to address the issue of appointments of judges," said constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya.
He stated that the issue could be resolved only after removing constitutional difficulties by invoking article 158 of the Interim Constitution.
Vice-president of Nepal Bar Association Surendra Mahato argued that the government cannot amend the Interim Constitution even by removing constitutional difficulties. "The best and easiest way is to revive the Constituent Assembly to address the issues of appointments in constitutional bodies including the judiciary," Mahato added.
An SC bench on Sunday stood divided over whether or not to extend the term of temporary judges or make them permanent judges without conducting parliamentary hearings.
The bench of Justices Ram Kumar Prasad Shah and Girish Chandra Lal had also issued an order to forward the case to a full bench of the court for the final verdict.