KATHMANDU, May 3: International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), an international human rights non-governmental organization, has urged the Nepal Parliament to immediately reject the impeachment motion against Chief Justice Sushila Karki terming it 'unprecedented'.
Issuing a press release, the ICJ said that the motion threatens the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.
"This impeachment motion, the first against a sitting Chief Justice in Nepal’s history, raises very serious concerns about the independence of Nepal’s Supreme Court and the separation of powers in the country,” said Matt Pollard, who heads the ICJ’s Center for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.
"The impeachment motion seems timed to suspend Chief Justice Karki just as she was scheduled to hear a politically controversial case," he added.
Stating that the Chief Justice is scheduled to retire soon, the ICJ said that the timing of the impeachment motion gives credence to suspicions that it is aimed at preventing her participation in judicial activity during the next few weeks.
“The timing of the impeachment action, so close to the Chief Justice’s scheduled retirement, gives credence to suspicions that it is aimed at preventing her participation in judicial activity during the next few weeks,” Pollard said.
The impeachment motion comes in the wake of the decision of the full bench of the Supreme Court, chaired by Justice Karki, to revoke the Cabinet’s 12 February decision to appoint a new Inspector General of Nepal Police evidently in violation of existing processes and regulations.
The motion to impeach Chief Justice was sponsored by two ruling parties, Nepali Congress and Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Center), pursuant to Article 101(2) of Nepal’s 2015 Constitution. This provision allows for an impeachment motion against the chief justice to be moved by one-fourth of the members of the Legislature–Parliament on the grounds of “serious violation of the Constitution and law, his or her incompetence, misbehavior or failure to discharge the duties of his or her office in good faith or his or her inability to discharge his or her duties because of physical or mental reason.”
Filing the impeachment motion immediately resulted in the suspension of the Chief Justice from her duties, pursuant to Article 101(6).
“The impeachment process under Article 101 does not comply with international standards on the independence of the judiciary, as the ICJ has pointed out repeatedly in its analysis of the 2015 Constitution,” said Pollard.
"This recent motion starkly demonstrates the problems with the Constitutional provision,” he added.
ICJ has praised Nepal’s Judiciary for being instrumental in protecting human rights, rule of law and enforcement of the Nepal’s obligation under international law.