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Crisis in Nepal

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May 03, 2017

Why in news?

Current face-off between the executive and the judiciary in Nepal will further erode the credibility of both institutions.

What happened?

  • The move to impeach the chief justice of Nepal’s Supreme Court, has triggered a new political crisis in Kathmandu.
  • Deputy PM and Nepali Congress leader resigned from the government after the impeachment motion signed by CPN (Maoist-Centre) and Nepali Congress, was moved.
  • On May 1 2017, the third largest constituent in the ruling coalition, the Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), withdrew its ministers.
  • Though the RPP has not withdrawn support to the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government, the events have weakened the coalition government.
  • Under Nepal’s constitution, a motion for impeachment moved by not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the House leads to the suspension of the person holding the constitutional position.
  • The notice will then be referred to Parliament’s Impeachment Committee, which will scrutinise the charges and make its recommendations to the House.
  • No time limit is specified for its final disposal.
  • Soon after Nepal went through radical political changes in 2006, its constitution was replaced by an interim one, requiring even sitting judges of the Supreme Court to take oath afresh.
  • A system of parliamentary hearings was introduced, but there were no structural checks to ensure the committee acted in a bipartisan manner.
  • In consequence, those hopeful of appointment as judges felt a need to please parties or leaders in the committee.
  • The same practice was followed in appointments to other constitutional bodies and ambassadorial positions.

Why this sudden turmoil?

  • At the root of the crisis is the politicisation of the judiciary, to which both the political parties and the judges have contributed.
  • The issue did not begin with present CJI, who took office as Nepal’s first woman CJ, and is unlikely to end with her exit.
  • The independence of the judiciary was compromised soon after the 2006 Constitution came into being and political parties started to influence appointments to the bench.
  • The wise principle that there must be separation of powers of the executive and the judiciary was ignored by both institutions.
  • In 2012, the then-CJ became PM of a government that included ministers from political parties.
  • In turn, the judiciary turned a blind eye to political activists, including legislators, seeking nomination as judges.
  • Earlier this year, the stand-off between the bar and the executive and judiciary had reached a flashpoint when over 300 lawyers, including senior office-bearers of the Nepal Bar Association, resigned to protest the appointment of 80 high court judges.
  • These appointees allegedly were nominees of the ruling parties, namely the CPN (Maoist-C) and the Nepali Congress.
  • Nepal’s transition from a monarchy to a republic has been chaotic.
  • The past decade has seen various stakeholders working at cross purposes in a bid to grab power at all costs, which has exposed the country’s ethnic and regional fault lines.
  • The failures of the political mainstream in nation-building could test the people’s faith in democracy itself.


Source: The Indian Express

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