Just when we thought we were making progress on peace and constitution building, the Supreme Court's verdict to reject a review petition on the term extension of CA has brought the judiciary into direct confrontation with government and the parliament.
The Supreme Court this week maintained that the CA term would automatically expire if the constitution is not written by 31 May 2012, and there is no reason why this decision should be reviewed or revoked.
Nepalis, frustrated with repeated extensions of the CA, overwhelmingly welcomed the decision not to extend. But instead of taking the SC's decision as a warning to finish its homework in time, the parties are lashing out at the Supreme Court as if it is just another feckless party. Ideally we should not have a situation where the judiciary has to push the parliament to get its act together. But people want someone to step up and say enough is enough.
The leaders have no explanation for why they have done nothing with four extensions in four years, while Nepalis continue to pay 601 very idle people to sit in the House. The parties need to wake up from their delusion of grandeur. They were elected for a task, they are the servants of the people, and they have been found wanting. They are not indispensible, and as much as they would like us to believe it, the sky will not fall on 31 May if the CA term is not extended.
Not extending the present CA's term does not mean dissolution of the house. We will have another election, a fresh mandate and the CA would continue. It is clear that the only reason why the leaders are opposed to this is because they are afraid to go back to the people again.
The Minister of Law and Justice Brijesh Kumar Gupta took the cake to say that the Supreme Court should be held responsible if the country heads towards a political disaster. Bravo, everyone else is responsible for the mess we are in except our Great Leaders. Gupta and his ilk consider themselves exempt from any duty or moral obligation.
Before insulting the Supreme Court, the party leadership would do well to look at itself in the mirror. It is not the Supreme Court that is presiding over the most corrupt government this country ever had, it isn't the Supreme Court that has pocketed billions earmarked for cantonment fighters who didn't exist, it isn't the Supreme Court that is raking in 'pre-paid' bribes from civil service and police transfers. The Supreme Court is not protecting a convicted murderer in parliament, or coddling war criminals in the cabinet. The judiciary, despite its own internal problems, has for the most part stood up for the integrity and interest of the nation more than parliament ever has. And that is not really a statement to be proud of.
Critics are saying that the SC should have at least registered the petition, then gone on to decide if the earlier verdict should be reviewed or not. That is splitting legal hairs. House Chairman Subhas Nembang, a lawyer himself, should know better than most that a refusal of review is routine court procedure. If the Court does not find enough grounds to question the fairness of an earlier verdict, it may chose to reject request for review. And turning constitution-writing into a Ten Year Plan just because our once-elected leaders can't deliver is not reason enough for the SC to waste its precious time.
The greatest danger now is the prospect of parliament overriding the SC decision. If that happens, impunity would win and the judiciary lose. One by one, the politicians have destroyed the pillars of democracy: first they squandered the people's faith in the executive, then they made a mess of the legislature, and now they are slinging mud at the judiciary. They have demoralised the civil service through continual interference.
Those who call themselves our 'leaders' should get on with constitution-writing in the time left rather than wasting any more time insulting the Supreme Court.
Between laughter and forgetting, ANURAG ACHARYA
Let's hope 2012 doesn't turn out to be another "interesting" year