“Independence and integrity of judiciary jeopardized by Supreme Court’s crisis”

"The allegations against the Chief Justice must be investigated and addressed through fair process consistent with the rule of law."

NL Today

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Kathmandu: The independence and integrity of the judiciary in Nepal is being jeopardized by the crisis at its Supreme Court, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International (AI) said on Friday.

To uphold human rights and the rule of law, it is essential to resolve the crisis in a way that maintains and enhances the court’s credibility and independence, they said in a statement.

Nepal’s judiciary is currently under an unprecedented crisis as Justices have refused to sit on Supreme Court benches unless Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana steps down.

The Supreme Court Justices have been refusing to conduct the hearing since October 24, calling for Chief Justice JBR’s resignation after allegations that he sought a share in the expansion of the Council of Ministers and this has raised a question on the dignity of the judiciary.

“Without judicial integrity and independence, the role of the Supreme Court will be weakened significantly, making it unable to uphold its constitutional obligation to protect human rights and the rule of law.”

“The Supreme Court has a crucial role in upholding human rights and the rule of law in Nepal, which makes this crisis extremely worrisome for the justice process,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The current crisis comes amid increasing calls for judicial reform. In July, a committee established by the Supreme Court and led by Justice Hari Krishna Karki submitted a report identifying a number of problems in the judiciary However, the Supreme Court is yet to make the full version of the report public, or to present a plan to carry out its recommendations.

“Without judicial integrity and independence, the role of the Supreme Court will be weakened significantly, making it unable to uphold its constitutional obligation to protect human rights and the rule of law,” said Mandira Sharma, ICJ senior international legal adviser.

“The allegations against the Chief Justice must be investigated and addressed through fair process consistent with the rule of law.”

Under Article 101 of the constitution, if one-quarter of the House of Representatives files a motion for impeachment, an 11-member impeachment recommendation committee of House members will investigate whether grounds exist for moving forward with the impeachment.

“An independent judiciary is the foundation of a rule of law-based system and respect for human rights,” said Nirajan Thapaliya, director of Amnesty International Nepal.

“As envisioned by the constitution, the parliament should ensure a robust, transparent, and effective investigation on the allegations faced by the chief justice to protect the integrity of the Supreme Court and to ensure public trust in the judiciary.”

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