NC Objection To SC Verdict Mocks Independence Of Judiciary
Ritu Raj Subedi
Nepali Congress (NC) has sent shockwaves through the political spectrum with its brazen objection to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the appointment of Inspector General of Police (IGP). The NC central committee meeting on Tuesday formally protested the SC’s ruling that has sought to rectify the government’s faulty decision that undermined elements of ‘meritocracy’ and ‘seniority’ while appointing Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Jaya Bahadur Chand as the chief of Nepal Police. The verdict has instructed the government to appoint DIG Nawaraj Silwal as the new IGP. The SC ruling has not only honoured the public feelings but it is also based on the Nepal Police Regulations that guide the security force while recruiting and promoting the police personnel.
The NC has protested to the Apex Court, stating that the latter has stuck its nose into the jurisdiction of the executive. However, contrary to its claim, many have termed it as the mockery of rule of law. It is not only the independent observers and non-NC constituencies but also the functionaries of NC have been stunned and shocked by the defective decision of the largest party. As the old parliamentary party, the NC insists that it adheres to the independence of judiciary, the principle of the separation of powers and rule of law but the NC has defiled the sanctity of judiciary that had issued several verdicts in support of democracy, freedom of speech, human rights and nationalism. The NC has simply unmasked its authoritarian character by attacking the court that had protected its leaders from the clutches of autocratic rulers in the past. It is unfortunate that the entire party is carried away by the whim and selfish posture of an individual leader. This is the height of decline of political ideals and values of the grand old party.
Looking back on the years when the court had given constitutional protection to NC president Sher Bahadur Deuba during the Panchayat regime, his accusation of interference by the SC is not only gratuitous but it also shows his ignorance of history of justice. According to journalist Bindu Kanta Ghimire, it is owing to bold decision of the court that Deuba had gained a foothold in politics. Deuba was the first elected president of Nepal Student Union (NSU), the sister wing of NC. A lawsuit was filed at the SC against the NSU arguing that it is an illegal organisation. If the court had decided that the NSU was an unlawful body in line with the desire of the palace, perhaps Deuba’s political career would suffer a big setback. But, the SC recognized the NSU and Panchayat government could not dare to disobey its ruling.
Deuba, for the first time, became prime minister in 1995 after the Apex Court reinstated the House of Representatives that was dissolved by prime minister Mana Mohan Adhikary, who had headed a minority government of the CPN-UML. The SC verdict triggered political uproar with UML workers hitting the streets against it. The UML, the then largest party, termed the verdict as politically-motivated and intended to clip the wings of popular government. But, the NC hailed the verdict as historic. Indeed, it was a political bonanza for Deuba. It catapulted him to the centre of power. He bypassed the veteran NC leaders – GP Koirala, Krishna Prasad Bhattarai and Mahendra Narayan Nidhi - and grabbed the hot seat of Singha Durbar. In 2005, the then king Gyanendra formed a Royal Commission that sent Deuba to jail on charge of corruption. But, the SC outlawed the Commission and he was released from the prison. This added to his political height. In 1998, the government had transferred the then IGP Achyut Krishna Kharel to the National Investigation Department but the SC overruled the prerogative of the executive and Kharel was reinstated as chief of Nepal Police. The government was compelled to implement the SC verdict. And the NC had welcomed the verdict of the court.
The NC had supported the SC’s verdict that announced the appointment of former chief of Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority Lok Man Singh Karki as illegal. Ironically, it has opposed the SC ruling against the appointment of DIG Chanda. This is obviously double standard of the NC. During the appointment of Chanda, the rumours of kickbacks had heated up the political market. Deuba had strongly instructed Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi to appoint Chanda to the post of IGP at any cost. The media had reported that Nidhi and Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda were for appointing Silwal as the IGP but they could not stick to their position before Deuba’s vehement pressure. He even warned of leaving the government if Chanda was not appointed as the IGP. Deuba also crossed swords with Nidhi over the issue and asked him to quit the post if he failed to follow his instruction.
The NC’s objection to SC’s verdict justified the news reports that Deuba had his hand behind Chanda’s appointment as Nepal Police IG. As the largest democratic party, the NC has the responsibility to implement the SC verdict, not to defy it. To our bewilderment, the government is dilly-dallying the appointment of IGP as per the SC ruling. The country should beef up security situation ahead of local polls slated for May 14. But the Nepal Police is left in the lurch in absence of an eligible and strong leadership. This may dent the morale of police on the ground. The Nepal Police that is responsible to provide security to the citizens must not be the victim of egregious politics.