CJ nominee’s rejection raises ‘tricky questions’

The Public Hearing Committee’s decision to reject Deepak Raj Joshee’s name for the post of chief justice has raised tricky questions, according to constitution expert Bipin Adhikari.

According to Adhikari, since there’s no Act clarifying the PHC process, the committee is functioning on a regulation, which does not say anything on what will happen to the acting CJ if his/her nomination is rejected by the committee.

“This raises tricky questions. How can a person rejected by the PHC continue to hold the post of acting CJ? If the name of other individuals is to be forwarded by the JC, how can the council do so when it is headed by the acting CJ who has been termed ineligible? How can an ineligible person take part in the Constitutional Council meeting and make recommendations?”

Meanwhile, the process of appointing a new CJ should begin afresh.

As per the law, judges who have served at least three years as Supreme Court justices are eligible for the post of chief justice.

The CJ appointment process begins with the Judicial Council forwarding the names of eligible justices to the Constitutional Council, which selects one of the three and recommends the name to the PHC. After the committee’s nod, the chief justice is appointed by the president.

According to details available on the official website of the Supreme Court, Justice Om Prakash Mishra and Justice Cholendra SJB Rana are the only two justices who have completed three years as SC justices.

After the Judicial Council relieved former chief justice Gopal Parajuli of his responsibilities on March 14, Justice Joshee had assumed office as acting chief justice the following day.

A meeting of the CC held on June 12 had recommended Joshee’s name for the post of chief justice from among three names forwarded by the JC — Joshee, Rana, and Mishra.

However, a PHC meeting today rejected Joshee’s nomination with two-thirds majority.