When the Nepalese Bar Association finalized its first phase of fighting Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana, its leaders struggled a lot. There was already strong opposition inside. However, his leadership managed to come to a decision on the first phase of the fight, which started from Sunday, with a firm position that the chief judge must step down. The first phase of the struggle ended on Wednesday.
A deep division has now emerged within the Nepalese Bar Association.
The Democratic Lawyers Association (DLA), affiliated with the Nepalese Congress, and the Progressive & Professional Lawyers Association (PPLA), affiliated with the main opposition party CPN-UML, have raised concerns about the continued stoppage of justice in because of the refusal of the judges to attend the benches and the position of the Nepalese bar. Both are the main constituents of the Nepalese Bar Association.
Publish separate press releases, which are almost identical in their subject matter,
Lawyers’ associations affiliated with UML and Congress demanded an end to the continuing obstruction of the hearings. So far, the Supreme Court justices have not heard any cases, although they have not taken any official position on the matter. The justices’ fight against the chief justice, however, did not lead to any Supreme Court case hearings.
After the reviews, hearings in the habeas corpus cases have started, but many say judges need to hear other cases as well, as avoiding the benches affects the public.
“The Chief Justice and Supreme Court justices cannot shirk their constitutional duties to dispense justice,” point number 5 of the PPLA declaration and point number 3 of the DLA declaration state. “We call for an end to such activities which are contrary to the legal spirit and democratic values. Not only the habeas corpus cases, but the hearings of all cases are due to resume soon. ”
Both of these statements came at a time when the Nepal Bar Association is holding its meeting after concluding its first phase of struggle to define a strategy to step up its protest against Rana after the Tihar festival.
The Nepalese bar leadership has already announced that it will develop a stronger nationwide protest plan if the chief justice refuses to step down.
The Supreme Court justices, the Nepal Bar Association and the Supreme Court Bar Association called for Rana’s resignation, saying the chief justice had not headed the judiciary. They alleged that Rana is the root cause of all the mess in the justice system.
No less than 15 Supreme Court justices have heard no cases, except those related to habeas corpus, in the past nine days.
Judges are already under moral pressure because questions have arisen about their moral and constitutional duty. Judges called on Nepalese political parties to take initiatives to “remove” the chief justice through an impeachment motion, but leaders have maintained an ominous silence so far.
Earlier on Sunday, Chief Justice Rana suggested to Supreme Court justices that he was ready for a “gracious exit”, but he has now backed down.
The crisis in the justice system has worsened over the past two weeks with increasing demands from bar associations and judges for his resignation.
Now that two leading members of the Nepalese Bar Association, PPLA and DLA, demand that hearings resume before the Supreme Court, the Nepalese bar faces a dilemma.
“Our main concern is that the hearings should not be hampered, which affects the service seekers because they suffer a lot,” said Yogendra Adhikari, president of the DLA. “We want a solution as soon as possible to the current impasse and action against those involved in the defamation of justice. “
Bhojraj Acharya, secretary of the PPLA, said boycotting the benches under any pretext is a mistake and that judges must therefore resume hearings as soon as possible.
“We know the chief justice is responsible for the crisis in the justice system, but that doesn’t mean the Supreme Court has to stop delivering justice,” Acharya said. “We came to the conclusion that justice should not be hindered after holding discussions among stakeholders, including the DLA. We must quickly find a solution to the current impasse.
He said the judges not only broke the chain of command, but also refused to bring justice to the people.
It is not known when the current crisis in the justice system will end. The Supreme Court will go on vacation for four days from Thursday for the Tihar festival.
If the constitutional provisions are to be respected, a chief justice can only be removed by a motion for impeachment. Or, a chief justice must resign or die for the post to become vacant. Outgoing Chief Justice Rana, despite intense pressure, has shown no sign of resigning yet.
When the Nepalese bar decided to launch the first phase of protest demanding the resignation of the chief judge, the management struggled to convince its members close to the PPLA.
In the 25 members Central working committee, 20 members are from the left group. Since the UML and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) had an alliance, it was called the Nepal Lawyers Association (NLA).
Chandeshwor Shrestha led the alliance.
The UML and the Maoist Center merged in May 2018 to form the Communist Party of Nepal (PCN). But it was struck down by the Supreme Court on March 7.
“Despite strong opposition, we managed to approve the struggle plan by consensus,” one of the officials of the Nepal Bar Association said after the decision on October 29 to start the first phase of protest against the chief justice.
“I am not affiliated with any party at the moment,” said the official who declined to be named.
The UML’s position in the current legal crisis is that the Chief Justice must not resign. The constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Rana, which had four judges as members, ousted UML President KP Sharma Oli from the post of Prime Minister on July 12 and appointed Nepalese Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba to the post of Prime Minister.
UML President Oli has made it clear that Rana does not need to resign. There are also discussions that the UML may file a petition for impeachment against four other judges who were the members of the Constitutional Chamber who ordered Deuba’s appointment as prime minister.
Judges Deepak Kumar Karki, Mira Khadka, Ishwar Khatiwada and Ananda Mohan Bhattarai were members of the constitutional bench that overturned Oli’s May 21 decision to dissolve the House of Representatives and led Deuba’s appointment as prime minister .
With divisions surfacing at the Nepalese bar, calls for Rana’s resignation may weaken.
On Wednesday morning, a meeting of the Nepalese Bar Association was held to discuss the modalities of the protest. However, the meeting could not decide on a protest plan for November 7-8 when the courts reopened.
With judges under extreme pressure from all walks of life, statements from the two most powerful lawyer organizations could complicate matters.
“We have led the way by avoiding the benches for so long. As we cannot continue to avoid the benches, the bar, the media, civil society and political parties must take up the issue, ”said one of the Supreme Court justices. “The Nepalese Bar Association has started its struggle, but it all depends on how it approaches the issue after Tihar. “