For the record: Maoist People’s Liberation Army (PLA) cantonments have started recruiting new soldiers apparently in response to the ongoing recruitment in Nepal Army (NA). Though the Maoist party itself has yet to officially comment on the recruitment, key political parties have come out strongly against the drive saying it violates past pacts, most notably the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of November 2006. Maoists, who head the defense ministry, said the same when Army recruitment row broke out. The other political parties gave the nod to Army recruitment.
Ram Sharan Mahat, who represents Nepali Congress at the Army Integration Special Commitee (AISC), reacted to what PLA Chief Nanda Kishor Pun had said on Monday: “How can this combatant commander talk about additional recruitment when the AISC is talking of rehabilitation and integration of ex-combatants?” Defence Minister and former PLA Deputy Commander Ram Bahadur Thapa told a mass rally in Tehrathum that he came to know about the recruitment drive through a press release put out by Pun on Monday (2 March).
Addressing a press conference in Kathmandu on Tuesday afternoon, Pun said the PLA was only filling up vacant posts to raise the number to its original size — 31,315. “Thousands of willing PLA combatants responded positively to Tuesday’s call and lined up for jobs at the seven PLA divisions,” Pun said. “I urge the media not to construe it as extra recruitment. We are just filling up vacant positions,” he said, offering the same agrument as the of Nepal Army, which last month completed recruitment process of 3,010 personnel. Asked if recruitment had been endorsed by the party, Pun said his decision had “nothing to do with the Maoist party.”
Meanwhile, CPN-UML Vice-Chairman and member of the AISC Bhim Rawal has tendered his resignation from the Committee. Talking to the Post, Rawal said, “Citing the changed political context in and outside the party and to pave the way to move forward I have resigned from the AISC.”
Meanwhile, reports of recruitent at PLA cantonments have started coming in. The PLA fourth division camp at Hattikhor, Nawalparasi, began recruitment on Tuesday “to fill up vacant posts” of those Maoist fighters disqualified by UNMIN. Gangalal Gharti Magar, PLA vice-commander at Hattikhor-based Paribartan Smriti Brigade, said that distribution of application forms has begun from Tuesday. PLA fourth division headquarters at Jhyaltungdanda is also poised to start recruiting any time now. PLA seventh division camp at Kailali district has also decided to start recruitment. A Maoist source said there are plans to take in around 1,700 combatants in the seventh division. UNMIN has recognized only 19,604 as qualified PLA combatants.
…and the Army Recruitment Case is Pending in Supreme Court that is split into different views
Phanindra Dahal in the Kathmandu Post
The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday (3 March) referred the hearing on the Nepal Army recruitment controversy to a larger bench after a two-member bench was split on whether to allow the Army continue recruitment of 3,010 personnel. This is a rare occasion in the history of Nepali judiciary that opinions of the judges have been divided on the continuation of stay order in a writ petition. Justice Bala Ram KC was in favor of scraping the stay order on recruitment while Abadhesh Kumar Yadav was against it. The stay order was issued by the apex court on Feb. 22.
“We have decided to continue a democratic exercise and conduct a full hearing after we were divided on the stay order,” said KC. The full bench or the special bench will decide whether the stay order should continue. Chief Justice Kedar Prasad Giri will choose the bench and fix the date for the hearing. Neither of the judges mentioned whether the stay order would continue until the next hearing.
“The verdict is unclear and does not make contribution in legal and judicial developments,” said lawyer Bhimarjun Acharya. “Since the court has ordered the Army to stop recruitment until March 1, the court had to at least explain whether the order continues now.” He said the stay order does not continue any more as its deadline expired on Sunday. Not everyone concurs. “The stay order remains valid until a new ruling overrides it,” said lawyer Shreekrishna Subedi who filed the writ.
Responding to the Public Interest Litigation (PIL), the SC on Feb. 22 had issued an interim order against the Army to stop the recruitment until March 1. The defendants are the Army, Defence Ministry and the PM’s Office.
After the hearing was over Tuesday, Justice Yadav said that the stay order must remain intact as the recent recruitment by the Army violated the constitution and the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) signed by the government and Maoists in November 2006. But justice KC suggested that discontinuity of the stay order and invited an amicus curie to decide on the stay order. He ruled that the issue had raised “some complex” constitutional questions and asked the Nepal Bar Association to send the names of two senior judges for the amicus curie.
The amicus curie will be asked to put their opinions on the constitutional status of the CPA and the Agreement on the Monitoring and Management of Arms and Armies (AMMAA) signed between the then Seven Party Alliance government and the CPN (Maoist) in December 2006. Both CPA and AMAA are in the annex of the Interim Constitution.