KATHMANDU, Oct 10: Hearing a writ petition filed against the appointment of 11 justices at the Supreme Court (SC) during the erstwhile KP Oli government could not take place on Monday after it was known that the justice scheduled to conduct the hearing is a member of the Judicial Council (JC), the body responsible for appointing justices.
The court administration had assigned Justice Deepak Raj Joshee to conduct the hearing on the writ petition. But Justice Joshee refused to take up the case arguing that he represents the JC as its member in the capacity of the senior-most justice and conducting the hearing would be a case of conflict of interests, according to SC administration.
On Friday, advocates Ganesh Prasad Pandey and Shrawan Kumar Shrestha registered the writ petition against the SC's previous decision to scrap the writ petition filed against the 11 justices. Going against the spirit of the previous move, the court administration had registered the petition that raises procedural lapses while appointing the 11 justices someone and a half years ago.
Soon after the writ petition was filed, a group of justices had consulted with Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli saying that the court administration's move to revive a case already settled has demoralized them. In response, CJ Parajili had assured them not to worry over the writ petition but to focus on their job. "But today the court administration deliberately assigned a justice, who is also a member of the JC. It has further escalated the confusion," said a justice-seeking anonymity.
The JC headed by the then Chief Justice Kalyan Shrestha had appointed 11 justices after frequent attempts made to appoint justices went futile. There were only three members in the Council - CJ Shrestha, senior most justice Sushila Karki and Law Minister Agni Kharel. Speaker Onsari Gharti, who also represents the Council as its member, was absent in the Council meeting. Later, she questioned the justice appointment process.
The case landed at the court with advocate Jyoti Baniya moving the court demanding that the JC's decision be implemented. Responding to the writ petition, a single bench of Justice Jagadish Sharma Poudel ordered the government and Speaker Gharti to conduct hearing of justice nominees arguing that the 'justice appointment process did not have any flaw.'
Miffed at the apex court order, several writ petitions were filed but the court scrapped them. But various speculations are being made after the writ petition against the appointment of 11 justices was registered all of a sudden. A group of SC justices believe that the writ was registered with the intent of removing the 11 justices appointed during the erstwhile KP Sharma Oli government so that it could pave the way for appointing democrat advocates as justices.