KATHMANDU, Dec 11: A writ petition was filed at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, challenging the recent appointment of the office-bearers of the National Information Commission (NIC).
Stating that the officials were recommended by an illegal committee headed by Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe, the petitioner has sought an apex court order to annul the appointments.
Advocate Bishnu Luitel filed a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an interim order from the apex court to put on hold the appointment of the NIC office bearers made on the basis of recommendation from an illegal committee.
The petitioner claimed that Deputy Speaker Tumbahamphe cannot perform the duty of the Speaker and that a committee led by the Speaker was supposed to make the recommendation.
Former secretary Mahendra Man Gurung was appointed the chief and advocate Kamala Oli Thapa and journalist Ratna Prasad Mainali (Deepak) were appointed as commissioners on the basis of the recommendation made by the controversial committee.
Deputy Speaker Tumbahamphe recommended the office bearers to the NIC, which looks into the cases against public bodies on demand of right to information from the citizens.
The five-year term of the present office bearers of the commission including chief commissioner Krishnahari Baskota and commissioners Kiran Pokharel and Yashoda Timilsina is expiring on January 9, 2020.
The existing law has clearly stated that the recommendation committee headed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and Minister or State Minister for Communication and Information Technology and President of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) as members shall make the recommendation for the appointment. Although the existing laws state that only the Speaker can head such a committee, Deputy Speaker Tumbahamphe had initiated recommendation at the commission last month in the absence of a speaker.
Article 91(4) of the constitution states that ‘the deputy speaker shall, in the absence of the speaker, chair the House of Representatives’ but it has not given the other rights of speaker to the deputy speaker.
Information activists doubt the role of the new appointees as they were appointed in the interest of the government. Chief Commissioner Gurung had retired as secretary of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology a few months ago.
Commissioner-designate Oli, who hails from Jhapa district, is a close relative of Prime Minister KP Oli and spouse of former minister Karna Bahadur Thapa. Chief Editor of Samayabadda weekly newspaper, Mainali hails from Kavre district—the home district of Minister for Communication and Information Technology, Gokul Baskota.