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Legislature vs Judiciary

Sunday, April 30th, 2017
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The Maoist-Nepali Congress led coalition on Sunday registered an impeachment motion against Chief Justice Sushila Karki, a judge known for her independence and a crusader against corruption and abuse of authority, and whose term was due to run out next month.

The move was not unexpected, but the timing appears to be tied with the bargaining with the UML on constitution amendments and elections, as well as a controversy over Karki’s defence of the appointment of a new police chief who was a Nepali Congress appointee as well as other high profile corruption cases.

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The move appears to be spearheaded by prime minister-in-waiting Sher Bahadur Deuba of the NC who is supposed to replace Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and the motion for impeachment cites the case of her reinstatement of police chief designate Navaraj Silwal as well as other matters of her conduct of the court.

The Court was expected to start a hearing tomorrow on the writ petition filed by Silwal, who was himself arrested briefly last week for leaking documents. The impeachment motion as taken to the speaker by Attorney General Raman Shrestha who is a Maoist appointee, NC’s Chinkaji Shrestha and Tek Bahadur Basnet of the Maoists and carried the signatures of 251 MPs from the two ruling coalition partners.

The NC and Maoist leaders said Karki had been interfering in the workings of the executive branch. NC leader Sashank Koirala had said last month that the judiciary had not right to tell the government what to do, a remark that brought him ridicule in social media and from commentators.

According to the constitution, the Chief Justice is suspended even if parliament registers a motion of impeachment and even before it votes on it. Parliament had also filed an impeachment motion against Lokman Singh Karki, the head of the Commission on the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA)  last October, which had led to his immediate suspension.

The irony of it all is that Chief Justice Karki is the nemesis of former Commissioner Karki, and the Supreme Court had itself ruled in January that his appointment as head of the CIAA was illegal and that he was unqualified for the job.

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