June 2, 2021 2:27:17 am
A constitutional bench of the Nepal Supreme Court hearing a plea against the dissolution of Parliament is likely to be reconstituted following strong protests from advocates, who said that two of the judges — Justice Tej Bahadur K C and Justice Bam Bahadur Shrestha — may have a conflict of interest.
The five-judge bench had already heard three sessions, with the eligibility of the two judges questioned again and again by senior judges.
While both judges declined to recuse themselves, Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana on Tuesday agreed to reconstitute the bench following a meeting with representatives of the Nepal Bar Association. The Chief Justice was under pressure to reconstitute the bench after the remaining two judges in the bench, Justice Dipak Karki and Justice Ananda Mohan Shrestha, threatened to opt out if the two judges in question did not withdraw.
Soon after meeting members of the Bar, Chief Justice Rana instructed the judicial council to amend the existing rule that authorises the CJ to exercise his discretion to constitute the bench and bring it before the “full court” so that judges are picked on seniority basis while dealing with constitutional issues of a serious nature.
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Earlier, Prime Minister K P Oli had courted controversy after he said that the demand by “kalo kote (black coats)” or lawyers that the petitioners should “decide the bench was anarchic”. This triggered a wider debate as to why Oli was seemingly coming to the rescue of the bench hearing a case against him.
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