Nepal Today

Thursday, February 28, 2013

NO INCREASED POWER CUT DURING KA;I GANDAKI REPAIRS Kathmandu, 1 March; Repairs of the 144MW Kali Gandaki-A Hydro Project begin Friday. Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) has ruled out increasing daily crippling 12- hours during repairs expected to last nearly two weeks. Nnnn INDIA ASKED TO CLOSE DOWN FIELD OFFICE Kathmandu, 1 March : Expressing strong reservations over its dilly-dallying in closing its ´field office´ based in Biratnagar, the government has written again to the Indian embassy here to immediately close the office that was opened in the aftermath of the massive Koshi flooding back in 2008, Kosh Raj Koirala writes in Republica.. Highly placed government sources said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) recently wrote to the Indian embassy, asking it to immediately close the office. MoFA has maintained that the office, which was opened to facilitate vehicular movement through Indian territory when a section of road on the Nepal side was disrupted by the flood, is no longer necessary. Officials said MoFA decided to write again to the Indian embassy as there was no response to a letter sent in January, 2011. “We have categorically directed the Indian embassy to immediately close the office as it was no longer necessary,” said a senior official at MoFA. “We are surprised at the Indian side dilly-dallying in closing the office even after our directives.” The Indian embassy had opened a ´field office´ near Koshi Barrage to provide ´permits´ to Nepalese vehicles in the aftermath of a breach in the Koshi embankment at Kushaha, Sunsari district on August 18, 2008. Officials said the office was relocated to Biratnagar without consent from MoFA after the broken road section was repaired a few months later. Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha confirmed MoFA´s directive. “We have asked through diplomatic channels for closure of the office since its relevance has already ended,” he said. Apart from its embassy in Kathmandu, India has a consulate general in Birgunj. Recently, then Indian Consul General S D Mehta had organized a cocktail party in Birgjunj and reportedly asked the guests to bring about ´a storm´ in Madhes before May 27, 2012 -- the deadline for promulgating a new statute. This attempt to unduly influence political leaders had drawn huge protest in various parts of the country after it became public through media the next day, and there were even demands for Mehta´s immediate expulsion from the country. Nnnn LEGAL EAGLES SEE RED OVER CJ's ACCEPTANCE OF PM OFFER Kathmandu, 1 March Chief Justice (CJ) Khil Raj Regmi´s formal acceptance of the offer of premiership has further exasperated constitutional and legal experts who have vehemently objected to the decision of the major political parties to form a CJ-led government, Gani Ansari writes in Republica.. A day after the CJ broke his silence on the decision and said he was positive about the proposal, Nepal Bar Association (NBA), the umbrella organization of lawyers across the country, said he does not have any moral grounds to continue in office as the chief justice. An emergency meeting of NBA held in the capital on Tuesday, which was also attended by former NBA presidents, general secretaries and Kathmandu Valley unit presidents, concluded that a sitting chief justice cannot be the executive head of the country. The apex court, issuing a press statement on Monday, had said the chief justice was positive regarding the proposal and that he would accept the post to end the ongoing political deadlock. Constitutional and legal experts have also accused the CJ of violating the code of conduct by holding a meeting with defendants of a sub-judice case. Regmi had held a meeting with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal who have been ordered by the apex court to furnish clarification over the decision to form a CJ-led government. Chairman of Democratic Lawyers´ Association (DLA) Yadunath Khanal said though the CJ´s move will not affect the relationship between the court and NBA immediately, the issue raised by the umbrella organization of the lawyers is very serious. “He (Regmi) is still holding the post of CJ. So, he must make his view public regarding the moral issue raised by NBA,” Khanal added. Khanal warned of possible attack on the independence of judiciary if law is violated on the pretext of political consensus. However, former NBA General Secretary Raman Kumar Shrestha claimed that the relationship between the court and NBA has already turned sour following the “strong worded” statement issued by NBA this week. “How one can say that the relationship between the bench and NBA is normal after NBA raised questions over the moral integrity of the head of judiciary,” he stated. Shrestha accused NBA of distorting the facts and said the CJ did not go to meet the political leaders but that the latter had met the CJ with the proposal on formation of a government-led by him. Political analyst Tula Narayan Sah said the protest of NBA against the CJ´s move proved that the proposal on formation a government led by sitting CJ could not remain undisputed even in the legal sector. “The stance of NBA against CJ-led government also indicates that the relationship between the bench and NBA will not remain smooth in future,” Sah said. ----- ´CJ statement tragic´ Meanwhile, Republica caught up with NBA Vice-president Tikaram Bhattarai on Thursday to talk about implications of the CJ´s latest move. Excerpts: What is your opinion about the Supreme Court (SC) statement regarding the chief justice (CJ)´s readiness to accept the offer of premiership? The apex court has issued such a statement for the first time in its history. This is a very unfortunate and tragic event. Will the recent move affect the relationship between the bench and NBA? This is not something related to the bench and NBA. It is completely related to the CJ´s personal ambition to become the prime minister. So, the relationship between NBA and the bench will remain as it was. But the statement was issued by the apex court and not the CJ. The SC had issued the statement upon instructions from CJ. It was not a statement of the apex court. However, it was not appropriate for the CJ to use SC letter pad to issue his personal statement. What will be NBA´s next step as it has kept silence after condemning the CJ´s move by issuing a press statement? We don´t prefer taking to the streets as we represent the intelligentsia. We put our views in a legal and constitutional way. Our single statement has caused a stronger impact than 10 days of strike. NBA has been accused of not coming up with stringent programs as its officials are affiliated to the political parties that have forwarded the proposal of a CJ-led government. What do you say? If we were not against the decision of the political parties, we would not have protested the move in the first place. If 109 political parties stand at one side against independence of judiciary, separation of powers and people´s fundamental rights, NBA will stand to safeguard independence of judiciary, separation of powers and people´s fundamental rights. What long-term impact will it have on democracy if the sitting CJ holds the post of the executive head of the country? The judiciary safeguards fundamental rights and liberty of the people. Sometimes the executive may take a decision against the people´s fundamental rights. If the same person holds the post of the head of the judiciary and the executive, the judiciary cannot scrap the decision of the executive. The judiciary will remain as a body occupied by the executive and the existence of judiciary will hold no meaning in such a situation. Nnnn


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