The government has decided to provide retirement benefits for those who retire after serving as acting chief justice (CJ) for over six months on par with CJ.
The recent Cabinet meeting has taken a decision to that regard on direct proposal of Prime Minister (PM) Sher Bahadur Deuba, according to a minister.
Acting CJ Deepak Kumar Karki, who is retiring on October 3 due to the age limit of 65 years, had taken over at the helm of judiciary after an impeachment motion was registered in the House against CJ Cholendra Shumsher Rana on February 13.
This is against the spirit of law. Acting CJ is liable to get remuneration and other benefits on par with CJ as per the act related to salary and other perks and benefits of CJ and Supreme Court (SC) justices but there is no provision for such parity on retirement benefits.
The decision has been widely condemned and is taken as PM Deuba paying back Karki, who was part of the constitutional bench that reinstated the House on July 12, 2021 and issued a mandamus to make Deuba prime minister within two days.
The five-strong constitutional bench included CJ Rana and Justices Deepak Kumar Karki, Meera Khadka, Ishwore Khatiwada and Ananda Mohan Bhattarai.
Chairman of the SC Bar Association Purna Man Shakya has told Setopati that no official can be given additional benefits without formulating law and added that the decision to provide retirement benefits for acting CJ on par with CJ should have been taken only by formulating law.
“If the decision has been taken only considering one individual, the situation in which it has been taken shows that it has been made for Deepak Kumar Karki who is retiring as acting CJ. This is not normal,” said Shakya.
Shakya, who is also a constitutional expert, has pointed at conflict of interest in the decision. “If such decision has been taken, it seems to be a quid pro quo. This does not seem appropriate.”