SC judges’ recommendations reflect political power sharing

Chief Justice opposes PM Dahal's and Deuba's choices

Ishwar Dev Khanal

November 21, 2023


SC judges’ recommendations reflect political power sharing

Supreme Court of Nepal, Ramshahpath in Kathmandu/File Photo

KATHMANDU: The recommendation of candidates for vacant Supreme Court justices has revealed internal political struggles, with Chief Justice (CJ) Bishwombhar Prasad Shrestha and Senior Justice Ishwor Khatiwada resisting the pressures exerted by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda.

The recommendation has become a subject of political contention, with a clear divide between the major parties.

Despite PM Dahal’s repeated push for the appointment of Attorney General Dinmani Pokharel, sources indicate that Chief Justice Shrestha and Senior Justice Khatiwada opposed this move.

Notably, one nominee each from legal circles affiliated with Nepali Congress and legal professionals associated with CPN-UML have been selected to join the bench.

Furthermore, there was notable resistance to PM Dahal’s insistence on appointing DN Parajuli, a Maoist recommendation.

Chief Justice Shrestha and Senior Justice Khatiwada did not concur with this choice, highlighting the internal discord within the decision-making process.

Meanwhile, sources also revealed that even Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba faced resistance when advocating for the appointment of advocate Vijay Mishra.

Senior advocate Sunil Pokharel, known for his proximity to NC leader Dr Shekhar Koirala, secured the position.

Similarly, Deuba and Dahal’s opposition to bringing a figure close to the Supreme Court was circumvented when the CPN-UML nominated Balkrishna Dhakal, a businessman with legal ties.

The Judicial Council, after prolonged deliberations, recommended six individuals for the vacant Supreme Court justices.

The meeting, chaired by Chief Justice Shrestha, navigated the political complexities surrounding the nominations.

Notably, the names of two lawyers were removed from both the Nepali Congress and UML quotas.

Senior advocates Sunil Pokharel, aligned with Nepali Congress, and Balkrishna Dhakal, affiliated with UML, emerged as the chosen candidates.

Both advocates attained senior advocate status last year, with Pokharel known for expertise in constitutional and criminal law.

The Maoist quota remains unfilled due to disagreements during the JC’s discussions.

Attorney General Pokharel and Parajuli were among the names considered on behalf of the Maoists, but a consensus was elusive, leading to the finalization of six recommendations in the upcoming meeting.

The recommendation process also witnessed a deviation from the traditional roll order, following the demise of Chief Justice Nripadhwaj Niraula.

Satya Mohan Joshi, the next in line, has also departed, resulting in the elevation of Mahesh Sharma, previously at the bottom of the roll order.

Moreover, inclusive quotas have seen additions, with Saranga Subedi and Abdul Aziz Muslim included.

In a noteworthy move, Tek Prasad Dhungana, a High Court judge, altering the dynamics within the judiciary.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Council meeting has endorsed the recommendation to include Tek Prasad Dhungana in the roster to assume the role of Chief Justice for approximately six months following Nahakul Subedi.

If the current recommendation receives approval from the parliamentary hearing committee, Dhungana, who has been proposed as a Supreme Court judge, will serve as a judge on the Supreme Court for the specified six-month period.