Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) has collected signatures of lawmakers to start impeachment of Deepak Raj Joshi who has resumed duty as Supreme Court (SC) justice after being rejected for the post of chief justice by the special committee for parliamentary hearing. The party collected the signatures at Lhotse Hall at the Parliament House, New Baneshwore and the parliamentary party office at Singha Durbar on Thursday.
It, however, has yet to take a formal decision to register the impeachment motion in the parliament and it is not clear whether it will really register the motion or has just collected the signatures with a strategy of bullying Joshi into resignation.
Joshi was rejected by the special committee for parliamentary hearing on August 3 on the basis of two-third majority. CPN had expected Joshi to resign after being rejected by its lawmakers but Joshi stayed on leave since August 5.
He welcomed newly appointed Chief Justice Om Prakash Mishra to the Apex Court as the senior most justice when the latter reached the SC to assume office on September 10. He reported for duty the next day but was not given any case. He was assigned cases for the first time since his return on September 13 and has been conducting hearings ever since.
The party with almost two-third majority in the parliament has taken return of Joshi as defiance of its power. Joshi is now the senior most justice after appointment of Mishra as chief justice. The senior most justice serves as a member of the Judicial Council, that recommends justices and investigates complaints against them, and the constitutional bench. CPN is also uneasy about Joshi staying in the Judicial Council.
It still wants Joshi to provide a solution by resigning but Joshi is not ready to do that. He has been claiming that he is qualified for justice and was rejected just for chief justice.
The CPN leaders raised questions about his educational certificates during the hearing for chief justice but he issued a press statement and challenged the lawmakers to investigate his educational certificates. He was then rejected on grounds of competence.
CPN lawmaker Yogesh Bhattarai told reporters while announcing Joshi’s rejection that Joshi could not present solid action plan and road map for the judicial sector during the hearing, and also failed to provide satisfactory answer to the questions raised about his behavior and integrity.
CPN lawmakers believe that Joshi’s return for duty having been rejected for chief justice in lack of competence has created grounds for impeachment. But they have not been able to publicly say as much. “Signatures are ready for registering impeachment motion,” a CPN lawmaker told Setopati. “We are waiting for the decision of party chairman and Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli. We still expect him to resign.”
PM Oli and deputy parliamentary party leader of CPN Subas Chandra Nembang Thursday evening discussed whether to register the impeachment motion or not.
CPN is reluctant to register the impeachment motion also due to the lengthy process after registration. CPN cannot just register the motion as Joshi will retire only a year later. The parliament will have to form an impeachment recommendation committee after registration of the committee.
Such committee will have to submit its report to the parliament within three months. Joshi may still be serving at the SC even when the whole process is completed. The situation will deteriorate for the party if it fails to establish the allegations against him.
The parties in recent times have been using impeachment motion as a weapon to scare office-bearers instead of taking the process to conclusion.
Lawmakers of the then CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) had also registered an impeachment motion against the then Chief Commissioner of Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) Lokman Singh Karki. But the SC revoked his appointment even before the parliamentary process concluded.
Similarly, the SC had revoked the impeachment motion registered against the then chief justice Sushila Karki by Nepali Congress and Maoist Center. The parties had withdrawn the impeachment motion after that.