KATHMANDU, Dec 24: Final hearings on the writ petition challenging the appointment of Lokman Singh Karki as chief of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) continued on Friday, with defense lawyers arguing that Karki was eligible to be appointed chief of the constitutional body.
A full bench of Justices Ishwar Khatiwada, Dr Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Anil Sinha has been conducting continuous hearings in the cases concerning suspended CIAA chief Karki.
Advocates Bal Krishna Neupane and Madhav Basnet, defending Karki's appointment, said that the apex court's decision to review the final ruling on the petition was itself flawed and went against precedent.
"The Royal Palace Service had the right to appoint staff and these were later seconded to the civil service. The court itself has set precedents for the tenure of Royal Palace Service stafff being counted in their civil service career," argued advocate Basnet.
He said that Karki, who started his career from the Royal Palace Service, should not be treated differently. He also said that the Supreme Court revising its own rulings could erode people's faith in the judiciary.
Advocate Neupane claimed that the apex court and the court administration are hastening to settle the writ petitions against Karki and suggested to the court not to let this haste compromise justice. He had initially argued that there should be no hearings Friday as his client was smeared black by two assailants at the court premises the previous day.
However, the bench ruled that Neupane should focus on the questions raised in the writ petition as the court administration had already initiated due process for Thursday's incident. Two CPN Maoist cadres, Prakash Shahi and Chandra Bahadur Budha, on Thursday physically assaulted Karki and smeared his face black right at the court premises.
Regarding the writ petition, Neupane said that no question of ethics could be raised against Karki just because of the report of a commission formed to probe abuse of power during Jana Andolan II.
The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for January 5.
On Thursday, lawyers for the plaintiff had argued that Karki's appointment as CIAA chief was unconstitutional as he lacked the qualifications mentioned in the Interim Constitution, which was then in force.
They had argued that Karki was in the Royal Palace Service in the initial days of his career and he didn't have 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, revenue, engineering, law, development or research in line with the Article 119 (5) of the Interim Constitution.
They had also argued that Karki was termed guilty by a commission formed by the government to probe misuse of power during Jana Andolan II (Mass Movement of 2006) and that his very background shows that he lacks the high ethical standing for holding the CIAA post.
The Supreme Court on September 17 decided to revisit its previous ruling on the writ petition challenging Karki's appointment as CIAA chief.
Advocate Om Prakash Aryal had filed two writ petitions in May, 2014 -- one demanding a court order to stop the government from appointing Karki as CIAA chief, and a subsequent one demanding annulment of the appointment decision.
The division bench of Justices Gopal Parajuli and Om Prakash Mishra had quashed both the writ petitions on September 24, 2014. Advocate Aryal then filed a review petition, to which the apex court gave its nod.
An impeachment motion against Karki has been registered in Parliament by lawmakers of the CPN-UML and some lawmakers of CPN (Maoist Center). However, Parliament is yet to discuss the impeachment motion. Following the registration of the impeachment motion on October 29, Karki has been suspended from his position.