SC summons authorities over NIC appointments

Published On: December 12, 2019 07:22 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Dec 12: The Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned government authorities to discuss whether or not to issue an interim order against the appointment of officials of the National Information Commission (NIC) on Sunday.

A single bench of Justice Manoj Kumar Sharma issued the order following the hearing conducted on Wednesday in response to a writ petition that challenges the appointment of the NIC office bearers.

The bench has scheduled the next hearing for coming Sunday and also asked the authorities – the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the deputy speaker and the appointed office bearers – to submit their written replies on the petition within 15 days.

Claiming that the officials were recommended by “an illegal committee” headed by Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe, advocate Bishnu Luitel filed the petition demanding apex court’s intervention. The petitioner claimed that Deputy Speaker Tumbahamphe cannot perform the duty of the speaker as only a committee led by a speaker can make such recommendations as per the Right to Information Act, 2006.

On Monday, former secretary Mahendra Man Gurung was appointed as chief and advocate Kamala Oli Thapa and journalist Ratna Prasad Mainali (Deepak) were appointed as commissioners on the basis of the controversial recommendation.

The five-year terms of the current office bearers of the commission including chief commissioner Krishnahari Baskota and commissioners Kiran Pokharel and Yashoda Timilsina is expiring on January 9, 2020.  

The law has specified speaker of the House of Representatives as chair and minister or state minister for Communication and Information Technology and president of the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) as members in the recommendation committee. 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 House 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.

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