'Chief justice can head device for holding polls only'
KATHMANDU, Feb 14: At a time when the UCPN (Maoist) is lobbying for the formation of a new government led by the sitting chief justice of the Supreme Court, lawyers close to the party have stated that it is not possible under the Interim Constitution.
In a meeting with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai at his resident at Baluwatar on Wednesday evening, the lawyers said that the chief justice cannot lead the executive branch under any circumstance.
“We told the prime minister that neither a sitting nor a former justice can be the head of the executive branch under the Interim Constitution, advocate Lawa Kumar Mainali told Republica after the meeting with Bhattarai.
Advocate Ram Narayan Bidari, who was also present at the meeting with the prime minister, said that a government led by the chief justice can be formed only by flouting the Interim Constitution.
“If a political decision is to be taken disregarding the Interim Constitution, the chief justice can lead a government,” Bidari said about the suggestion they made to Dr Bhattarai.
However, they suggested to the prime minister that the chief justice can head a mechanism that is meant solely for conducting the polls.
“The government can form a mechanism under any name for just holding the polls, under the leadership of the chief justice,” said Mainali, adding, “The government can depute the chief justice to accomplish a task of national importance as per the Interim Constitution.”
Bidari stated that the government, in consultation with the Judicial Council, can assign the chief justice or any justice of the Supreme Court to work concerning a judicial inquiry, or to legal or judicial investigations or research, or to any work of national concern, for a specified period of time.
Attorney General Mukti Pradhan and Nepal Bar Association former general secretary Raman Kumar Shrestha, among others, were present at the meeting with Bhattarai.
Meanwhile, lawyers associated with the Democratic Lawyers´ Association (DLA), which is affiliated to the Nepali Congress (NC), said that the government cannot assign to the chief justice the responsibilities of head of the executive branch.
In a meeting with the NC leadership, they stated that the Maoists are misinterpreting the Interim Constitution.
“The government cannot appoint the chief justice as prime minister under Article 106 (1) of the Interim Constitution, which states that the government, in consultation with the Judicial Council, can assign the chief justice or any justice to work of national concern for a specified period,” said Chairman of DLA Yadunath Khanal.
According to Khanal, they also condemned the statement of Prime Minister Bhattarai that the latter was ready to debate each article of the Interim Constitution.