Nepal’s top judge suspended after impeachment motion filed

Nepal's top judge suspended after impeachment motion filed

KATHMANDU, Nepal — Nepal’s first female Supreme Court chief justice was suspended after an impeachment motion was filed in parliament accusing her of bias and interfering with executive powers.

Sushila Karki, who had one of the highest positions ever held by a woman in Nepal, was suspended automatically after the motion signed by nearly half the members in parliament was registered, Supreme Court spokesman Mahendra Nath Upadhaya said Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Bimalendra Nidhi resigned in protest of the impeachment motion, an absence likely to cause problems because crucial municipal and district elections are planned in two weeks. Nidhi was also the home minister tasked with arranging security for the polls.

Nidhi handed in his resignation because he disagrees with the motion filed against the chief justice, which will bring further distance between the legislature and judiciary, his press adviser Ramjee Dahal said.

There was no discussion on the issue within the party, Dahal said. Nidhi is from the Nepali Congress party, one of the two ruling parties whose members signed the motion.

Karki was accused of interfering with executive powers and issuing biased decisions. The motion cited a court order overturning the government’s appointment of the police chief.

The motion, filed late Sunday, needs to be debated in parliament and then receive two-thirds of the votes in the 601-seat parliament for it to be approved.

Karki was known for zero tolerance against corruption. She was appointed chief justice in April 2016 and was due to retire next month.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the parliament building on Monday chanting slogans against the motion against Karki.

Rows of police in riot gear and barbed wire barricades stopped the protesters from reaching the parliament building.

Binaj Gurubacharya, The Associated Press