Crisis in Nepal judiciary as protests continue against Chief Justice


Kathmandu, Nov 12 : Nepal's judiciary is facing an unprecedented historic crisis after 19 out of 20 Supreme Court judges demanded the resignation of Chief Justice Cholendra Sumsher Rana. The umbrella organisation of Nepali lawyers -- Nepal Bar Association, also demanded the "graceful exit" of Rana for "nurturing corruption in the court and promoting anomalies" in the judicial system. On Friday, hundreds of protesting lawyers stopped Rana from entering the Supreme Court. Issuing a statement on Friday, three international human rights organisations have called for an end to the crisis in Nepal's Supreme Court, saying it has jeopardised the independence and integrity of the judiciary. In a joint statement on Friday, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International said that it is essential to resolve the ongoing crisis in a way that maintains and enhances the court's credibility and independence. Concerns from the international human rights organisations come amid Supreme Court justices and the legal fraternity's ongoing protest against Rana. They have been demanding Rana's resignation, saying he is the source of all the ills in the judiciary. For the last three weeks, the justices have not heard any cases, except for habeas corpus petitions. Since Friday, lawyers have refused to participate in even the habeas corpus hearings. With Rana refusing to step down, the confrontation in the Supreme Court has escalated further. At least six lawyers, including office bearers of the Nepal Bar Association, sustained minor injuries in the scuffle on Friday. The Bar Association reacted with some stern protest programmes. It has decided to stop Rana from entering the Supreme Court on Sunday too. Meanwhile, Nepal's political fraternity is divided over the fresh row over the judiciary that has been hampering the delivery of justice. The ruling alliance and the government have been saying that it is up to the judiciary to resolve the ongoing crisis. The main opposition, Nepal Communist Party-UML has stood in favour of Rana. Some political party leaders and legal experts have called on the political parties to impeach Rana. Rana also refused to resign and asked the agitating justices and lawyers to impeach him. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is also said to be in consultation with ministers and leaders on defusing the tension inside the court as the pressure is mounting on his government to seek an early remedy of the crisis in the judiciary. /IANS


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