KATHMANDU, March 14: Eight justices of the Supreme Court boycotted case hearings on Tuesday with a view to pressure Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli to go on leave.
“We boycotted the bench because the CJ did not listen to our suggestion to him yesterday to take leave,” one justice told Republica, requesting anonymity. Claiming that CJ Parajuli assigned the judges their judicial tasks despite suggestions to stay away from preparing the cause list, which is a major task of the CJ, they said they therefore took the step of boycotting their tasks.
Seniormost Justice Deepak Raj Joshi and Justices Prakash Raut, Harikrishna Karki, Sapana Pradhan Malla, Ishwor Khatiwada, Dr Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, Bishwombhar Shrestha and Anil Kumar Sinha did not attend the bench even after the CJ assigned them their cases. Interestingly, Joshi, Raut, Karki and Malla are CJs in waiting. They had yesterday advised Parajuli to take leave in order to protect the judiciary from further controversy.
Meanwhile, a highly placed source at the apex court claimed that CJ Parajuli consulted President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Prime Mister KP Sharma Oli over the crisis in the judiciary and expressed his wish to make a graceful exist within a few weeks.
“Might be he wants to administer the oath of office and secrecy to the new president and also submit the annual report of the Supreme Court before taking leave,” the source said adding, “During the meeting with senior justices he had hinted that he would not take leave before completing those two tasks.”
Justices Joshi, Om Prakash Mishra and Deepak Kumar Karki had consulted with the CJ when justices boycotted the benches on Tuesday. “I will approve leave for those who want to boycott their work,” the source quoted Parajuli as saying. They went to meet the CJ, representing the aggrieved party with an intention of seeking a way out of the crisis, according to sources.
Following a move by Justice Cholendra SJB Rana on Monday to boycott a CJ Parajuli-led seven-member full bench stating that the CJ should have take retirement on August 5, 2017 as per his credentials and other documents, the other justices had suggested Parajuli take leave to pave a way out of the crisis.
Parajuli had assigned cases to the justices and to himself for Tuesday even after the leave suggestion. He shared a division bench with Justice Tej Bahadur KC and decided around three dozen petitions. But he did not assign any case to Justice Rana.
Meanwhile, the bar units are also divided over the current situation in the judiciary. Issuing a press release, the Supreme Court Bar Association on Tuesday called on CJ Parajuli to separate himself from all judicial tasks for the sake of protecting judicial integrity.
“Even though the matter of his date of birth and other certificates were settled by the Judicial Council and he was appointed with the recommendation of the Constitutional Council, he should leave off judicial and administrative tasks on moral grounds,” the press release jointly issued by Bar Association President Shailendra Kumar Upadhyay and Secretary Anju Upreti Dhakal said.
The lawyers' body also sought action against Rana for breaching the decorum of the court and the discipline of judges. The Nepal Bar Association yesterday called for action against Rana for breaching the discipline of judges.
Issuing a joint press release, the official trade unions of the Supreme Court on Tuesday urged to maintain judicial independence, the integrity of judges and the rights of service seekers.
“Otherwise we will be compelled to launch programs for demanding resignations of the judicial leadership and judges who have been boycotting the bench,” says the statement signed by Hari Bhattarai, Dal Bahadur Bajimaya, Prakash Parajuli, Prabhakar Mallik and Ghanaraj Pokhrel.