CJ breaks silence over parties´ proposal, says ready to lead new government
KATHMANDU, Feb 26: Breaking his long silence over the proposal of the major political parties to form an election government under his leadership, Chief Justice (CJ) Khil Raj Regmi has said that he is ready to head such a government.
The Supreme Court (SC), issuing a press statement on Monday, said the chief justice has a positive view regarding the proposal to head a government in order to end the ongoing political and constitutional crisis, and not out of any personal ambition.
The apex court stated that the process ahead would be in accordance with consensus among the political parties, resolution of the constitutional and legal complexities and respect for the decision of the judiciary.
"The Supreme Court believes that discussions have taken place on the formation of a government under the chief justice because of his belief in the rule of law, respect for human rights, commitment to an independent judiciary, contributions in the field of justice for the past 40 years and faith in the judiciary," reads the press statement signed by SC Assistant Spokesperson Hemanta Rawal.
The SC´s statement comes at a time when the silence of the chief justice over the proposal of the major political parties is being criticized by constitutional and legal experts. Rawal said the SC issued the press statement following instructions from the chief justice.
Asked how the chief justice could lead a government as the issue is already sub-judice at the apex court, Rawal said that he (Regmi) would move ahead in accordance with the court´s ruling on the issue.
The SC on Sunday had sought written clarifications regarding the issue from the president´s office, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and his office and UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal by March 5.
Following hearings on a writ petition filed by Advocate Bharat Mani Jangam at the apex court, a single bench of Justice Sushila Karki had decided to forward the case to a special bench, stating that it was necessary to interpret several laws before issuing a final verdict. The next hearing on the petition will be held on March 7.
CARTOON: RAJESH KC
Earlier, at a meeting with the chief justice Monday morning, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and top leaders of the UCPN (Maoist), Nepali Congress (NC), CPN-UML and United Democratic Madhesi Front (UDMF) had urged him to head an election government.
Responding to a question last week about his silence, Regmi had said that he would make his views public at an appropriate time.
Meanwhile, expressing grave concern over the statement issued by the SC, Nepal Bar Association (NBA), the umbrella organization of lawyers across the country, has called an emergency meeting to discuss the issue.
According to NBA Vice-president Tika Ram Bhattarai, former NBA presidents, general secretaries and Kathmandu Valley unit presidents are also invited to the meeting.
“The NBA is sticking to its stance against the formation of a government under the leadership of a sitting or former justice of the SC, thereby undermining judicial norms.
Constitutional and legal expert Bhimarjun Acharya termed the SC´s statement ´a tragic event´.
“The SC issued a political statement on the CJ´s wish in contravention of judicial decorum,” he maintained, adding, “The meeting of the CJ with the respondents of a sub-judice case is also against the code of conduct for judges.”
Acharya further maintained that the SC´s statement touches on a sub-judice issue. “It hints that the sub-judice case will not be overseen impartially,” he added.
Political party leaders have also taken strong exception to the statement of the SC on a sub-judice case. “The way the apex court has issued a statement over a case which is sub-judice is objectionable,” said NC CWC member Arjun Narsingh KC, adding, “This goes against the fundamental legal principle regarding comments on a sub-judice cases.”