This is the first time Parliament is hearing for Chief Justice’s post and this hearing must set example for future hearings.
Facts and the Latest: The justices and employees of the Supreme Court bid farewell to Chief Justice Dilip Kumar Poudel the day before yesterday (Friday 7, September) while members of a panel formed by the parliamentary Special Hearing Committee to probe more than a dozen complaints filed against Giri are still divided over Chief Justice-designate Kedar Prasad Giri. The Committee today decided to summon Giri for further hearing on his case at 11 am on Tuesday (11 Sept) after it could not take a decision on the complaints filed against him, according to lawmaker Bharat Mohan Adhikari. The probe panel whose meet ended inconclusively today morning nevertheless tabled a report on its investigation into 15 out of 16 complaints filed against Giri to the hearing committee.
On August 30, a meeting of the constitutional council chaired by the Prime Minister had recommended Supreme Court Justice Giri to succeed Poudel. The nine-member parliamentary probe committee members are unlikely to reach consensus over Giri’s appointment because the leftist in the committee think Giri seriously failed to maintain maintain professional ethics in his long judicial career while Congress MPs think since the hearing tradition is just beginning in Nepali parliamentary system, the committee shouldn’t be tough on nominee. There are four other Supreme Court Justices eligible for the post of the Chief Justice (in seniority order): Min Bahadur Rayamajhi, Anup Raj Sharma, Ram Prasad Shrestha and Khil Raj Regmi.
According to complaints against Giri, he was involved in a controversial SC verdict related to financial embezzlement in Mahalaxmi Sugar Mill which was blacklisted by some banks for not paying loan in time. When some commercial banks filed complaints against Giri in the previous parliament (restored after the April revolution), the Public Accounts Committee had also discussed whether the House should impeach Giri. Complaints also detail that Giri was working in favor of the royal government and deliberately ignored pro-democratic suits.
The View: Though difference of opinions in the committee won’t place any legal hurdles in Giri’s appointment to the top judicial post (the committee must unanimously reject the name to disqualify him from legal perspective), it wouldn’t be okay to ignore the complaints. If the complaints are really serious and hold credible ground, then they should be taken seriously and the committee should unanimously reject Giri. The committee should see what Giri has to say on the complaints. If he sounds fully committed to democracy and people, may be the committee should consider him for the post. This is the first time Parliament is hearing for Chief Justice’s post and this hearing must set example for future hearings.
There is no doubt that our legal system definitely needs an overhaul. There were many questionable incidents that involved heavyweights of courts. It is also widely believed that there is rampant corruption in our judicial system. Judges must be those who have progressive mind and unquestionable commitment to democracy. Appointment of Justices of the Supreme Court and their chief is always a thorny issue in other parts of the world as well. It is important for the Parliamentary hearing committee that this should not be politicized. Whatever the decision the committee takes, it should transparently explain reasons to people so that their faith to the judiciary increases.