“Judicial commission a must to address problems of intermediaries in courts”

Dhiraj Basnet

September 4, 2022


“Judicial commission a must to address problems of intermediaries in courts”

KATHMANDU: The Nepal Bar Association (NBA) submitted a 34-point letter to the Parliament’s impeachment recommendation committee formed to investigate allegations against suspended Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana.

NBA President Gopalkrishna Ghimire and General Secretary Anjita Khanal handed over the letter to the parliamentary committee investigating against Rana.

Khabarhub’s Dhiraj Basnet approached NBA President Ghimire to discuss the 34-point letter and the Bar leadership’s plans for reform in the judiciary.

Here are the excerpts of the interview:

You submitted a 34-point letter to confirm the impeachment against the suspended Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana. Celaborateelaborate on it?

The impeachment motion filed against Rana has been based on various verdicts made under him. We have submitted the cases and the bases for the decisions made by his bench.

There is a case relating to then DIG Ranjan Prasad Koirala being the appellant and Hariram Dhakal’s complaint as the main case.

A charge based on that caused a stir. That case is now under appeal and Koirala is in jail. And, we have presented a list of many issues that have been financially manipulated.

If only a small matter is raised against a judge, the judge should abstain from the case to ensure public trust. However, here, we found judges sticking to cases despite public concerns relating to conflict of interest. This led to gola pratha (lottery system) to assign cases to the judges. It shows the decline of public trust in the judiciary.

Last year, a task force was formed under the leadership of the Supreme Judges and Nepal Bar Association, Supreme Bar Association and others to suggest the immediate reforms required in the judiciary.

It submitted a report of 200 pages. After it was revealed that there is distortion in the court, there is corruption and justice is bought and sold by intermediaries, Nepal Bar Association held a long protest against Chief Justice Rana for 119 days.

Then the judges of the Supreme Court defied to share the bench under Chief Justice Rana. The Parliament proposed impeachment covering the irregularities committed by Rana.

However, after it was delayed for a long time, we met the Speaker and said that the impeachment proposal against a Chief Justice should not be delayed. In this way, it was included in the list of agendas for the parliament.

You said, most of the 34 points of the impeachment proposal of the parliament are related to erroneous and controversial decisions. What else is mentioned there?

We have also submitted audio clips and news clips. We have explained the things that are in discussion. Corruption is committed under guiles. Therefore, everything is known only after studying that decision.

NBA protested for 109 days demanding the suspension the Chief Justice Rana claiming he is the root cause of corruption and his suspension would be pivotal for judiciary reform. What is the improved scenario after his suspension?

Firstly, our movement is not only a movement against the Chief Justice. This is a movement initiated for the reform of the entire judiciary. Distortions are rooted in this court of Nepal. He seemed the target as one could not imagine reforms as long as the Chief Justice is involved and protects the corruption. We want the reform in the entire court.

I mean, is there anything denoting the court is on the right track now?

We have found that the people working in the courts are now somewhat scared. There are some signs of improvement. That is why we provide documents to prevent distractions. There have been efforts to change gola pratha system as it has made bribery difficult. However, Nepal Bar Association has cautioned against such regressive efforts.

It is said that the judges who do not have access to the power center have been made the victim of so-called ‘reform against ‘irregularity’ and are facing dismissal, transfer and other various actions. Does this indicate the reform of the courts?

When the judicial council takes action against someone, it should give the accused the chance of defense. Democracy has ensured this.

Clarification from the accused also helps in finding whether the person should be tried ahead or not. Taking action against a few individuals will not solve the problem, everyone should be changed.

What are your plans for reformation?

A high-level judicial commission should be formed, a commission that is free and can resist pressure. Our High Court has been created to reduce the load on the Supreme Court. It was meant to be a record court. The High Court was expected to decide most of the cases. However, it has not functioned that way.

In such a situation, a judicial commission should be formed. The Judicial Commission should conduct a comprehensive study and make an action plan by looking at what improvements should be made in the Judiciary. The courts should be reformed accordingly. NBA is always ready to cooperate in such reforms.

There should be a syllabus, and a course for judges going to court, and only those who pass that course should become judges.

We have action plans, but this distortion has grown so much that it cannot be stopped easily. It is not possible to disprove the allegations against the judiciary now. Therefore, it is not easy to reform the judiciary of Nepal. The future leadership will be watchful about this.

The term of the House of Representatives ends on October 17, how much do you think it is possible to finish all this before then?

They (the parliamentarians) have made a timetable; we have lobbied the political parties of Nepal so that it is completed accordingly.

How has the Speaker viewed this matter? 

The process cannot be exactly known unless the Speaker writes to the Supreme Court that the proposal sought in this way has reached this point. This matter should be resolved quickly.

It has to be worked out continuously. Even when we provide evidence of corruption, if political parties continue to support the corrupt ones, we will also speak against them (the political parties).

Therefore, we demand that the impeachment motion should be taken ahead to a conclusion soon. We will be watchful in this regard.