Nepal Army Snubs Supreme Court

Nepal’s Supreme Court on Sunday ordered the Army to stay the promotion of General Toran Singh to second-in-command. Singh has been accused by human rights activists, the National Human Rights Council, the United Nations and foreign diplomatic missions of complicity in the deaths of 49 alleged Maoists detained at a military base he commanded during the decade-long civil war.

The Army appears ready to defy the order.

An Army spokesman said in response, “Since the decision has already been implemented, how could the apex court issue a stay order?” He claimed that the court did not overrule the cabinet decision and that its order was therefor “meaningless.”

The court’s response to a petition filed by three Maoist leaders was unusually prompt: Singh was promoted on December 24th, the petition was filed on the 27th and ruled upon just one week later. By contrast, action on a similar petition challenging the decision of Nepal’s president to block the dismissal of the then-Chief of Army Staff in May is still pending.

The Supreme Court’s stay order requires the Prime Minister, Defence Minister, General Singh and the members of the promotion committee to attend a court hearing on January 10. The hearing will decide whether to vacate the promotion or allow it to stand.

None of officials called has responded to the court or made any public statement about whether they would comply with the order, and General Singh continued to act in his new capacity on Monday.

John Child is The NewsBlaze Nepal Correspondent, a journalist in Kathmandu who writes about goings-on in and around Nepal and her neighbors.