KATHMANDU, March 22: The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday annulled the government’s decision to appoint Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Jaya Bahadur Chand as the Inspector General of Nepal Police.
A full bench of SC including Chief Justice Sushila Karki and justices Hari Krishna Karki, Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, Aananda Mohan Bhattarai and Anil Kumar Sinha annulled the cabinet decision to promote DIG Chand to the post of IGP stating that the appointment should not only be up to the collective wisdom of the decision makers.
The bench also ordered the government to consider the performance evaluation of the four senior-most DIGs for the past four years and appoint one of them as the IGP based on seniority and merit. Nawaraj Silwal, Prakash Aryal, Chand and Bam Bahadur Bhandari are the four senior-most DIGs in Nepal Police.
“If seniority is undermined without appropriate and enough reasons, arbitrariness rises creating an unwanted and unnecessary effect on the management of human resource in the security agency,” stated the court verdict.
The court said that Rule 41 of Nepal Police Regulations sets five criteria apart from seniority, adopting the principle of seniority-cum-merit while appointing the IGP. The bench said that the contenders should be evaluated on all the criteria set by Rule 41 on the basis of yearly performance evaluation for four years.
“If the performance evaluation is ignored and decisions are taken on the basis of the whims of the decision makers, arbitrariness comes into effect and such situation cannot be accepted,” states the verdict.
“The Police Regulations state that the Government of Nepal can promote the candidate deemed appropriate. Obviously, promotion is the right of the Government of Nepal. However, there must be objective criteria while practising this right,” it further said.
The apex court said that the government’s decision to appoint Chand as IGP does not mention any criteria mentioned in the Police Regulations.
“The documents presented to the bench make it clear that there are a number of DIGs working in Nepal Police. Among them, four DIGs - Nawaraj Silwal, Prakash Aryal, Jaya Bahadur Chand and Bam Bahadur Bhandari - who were promoted to the post on December 19, 2012- were the close contenders for the promotion. The government’s decision became an odd example of pick and choose as it mentioned only the name of DIG Jaya Bahadur Chand as if there were only one DIG in Nepal Police, while not mentioning anything about the individuals in the first, second and fourth ranks in the order of seniority,” reads the verdict.
The verdict stated that the government’s decision and the written statements submitted to the court say nothing about why the government promoted DIG Chand, who was in the third rank in terms of seniority, leaving out DIG Nawaraj Silwal, the senior-most among the DIGs.
The court has clearly said that the government’s decision inappropriately discriminated against Nawaraj Silwal, who was ahead of Chand in every promotion. The verdict also stated that ignoring seniority is injustice to Silwal, who is on the top of the seniority list.
“Looking at the performance evaluations conducted from 2012/13 to 2015/16, Nawaraj Silwal is found to have obtained the highest score, followed by Prakash Aryal, Bam Bahadur Bhandari and Jaya Bahadur Chand, respectively,” stated the verdict, adding that the government’s decision has not paid any attention to the performance evaluation.
The government had promoted DIG Chand to the post of IGP on February 12. On the same day, a single bench of Chief Justice Sushila Karki had issued an interim order not to implement the government’s decision.
Advocate Kapil Dhakal had filed a writ petition at the SC against the government’s decision arguing that the appointment breached the Nepal Police Regulations.
On February 13, DIG Nawaraj Silwal filed a writ petition demanding that he should be appointed the IGP for being the senior-most DIG. The government had picked AIG Dinesh Chandra Pokharel as the acting IGP after its decision to promote DIG Chand to the post was stayed by the court.