Govt attorneys boycott hearings to protest appointment of judges

- DEWAN RAI, Kathmandu
We have not demanded specific quotas for judges. We want the authority concerned to realise the mistake and make a commitment that it will not repeat this in future - Sanjiv Regmi, joint gen secy, government lawyer society

Jan 23, 2017-Government attorneys across the country on Sunday boycotted court proceedings in protest of appointment of High Court judges, resulting in deferral of an estimated 500 hearings scheduled for the day. 

The Supreme Court alone had scheduled hearings of 357 cases, of which government attorneys were to defend over 100. 

The protests, launched last week by the government attorneys and trade unions under the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), affected regular court proceedings in 75 district courts, seven High Courts and their benches, Special Court and Foreign Employment Tribunal.  

Blaming the government for giving the cold shoulder to their calls, the protesters later in the day decided to continue boycotting the court proceedings on Monday as well. 

“We are well aware of the inconvenience caused to the public by our protest, but we are forced to resort to the protest as our concerns were ignored,” said Sanjiv Kumar Regmi, joint attorney general and secretary of the Government Lawyer Society. 

The government attorneys are up in the arms after only one out of 35 senior officials was picked by the Judicial Council (JC).

The JC, headed by Chief Justice Sushila Karki, on January 12 recommended 80 names for High Court judges who have already taken their oath of office and secrecy. Two JC members did not consent to the decision. The JC, however, has clarified in statement that four government attorneys have been picked for the post and cautioned all not drag the issue into controversy. “We have not demanded specific quotas for judges,” said Regmi, “We want the authority concerned to realise the mistake and make a commitment that it will not repeat this in future.”

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ajay Shanker Nayak, who is also a member of the JC, said the attorneys should have advised the government instead of refusing to carry out their duties. 

“Such extreme position taken by the attorneys is harmful not only to them but also to the government as a whole,” said Nayak, adding: “The government is concerned about the ongoing protest, but the protesters, who are also part of the government, should not insist on their claims.”

Responding to a writ petition filed against the decision, the Supreme Court on January 19 had issued a show cause notice to the Judicial Council regarding the appointments. 

A single bench of Justice Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, however, refused to issue a stay order, as demanded by the petitioners, against the JC decision. 

The petitioners claimed that the JC recommendations violated the principle of inclusion as 83.75 percent candidates were from the Khas Arya community, 

while Madhesi, Janajati, women and Dalits were under-represented. 

Published: 23-01-2017 07:59

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