SUPREME COURT RULING ON NRNA: Unite Non-resident Nepalese

The Supreme Court has reinstated the High Level Committee of Non-Resident Nepalese Association (NRNA) led by Shesh Ghale to unite non-resident Nepalese.

April 8, 2024, 5:55 p.m.

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The Supreme Court has resolved the longstanding dispute over the legitimacy of the International Coordination Committee (ICC) led by Binod Kuwor and Kul Acharya, Badri KC and Rabina Thapa, which was established during the 10th International General Assembly held at Hotel Yak&Yeti and Hotel Himalaya. Justices Sapana Pradhana Malla and Dr. Nahakul Subedi presided over the division bench that issued the landmark ruling to safeguard the goals of NRNA and maintain the unity of non-resident Nepalis.

Following the Supreme Court's ruling, the ICC formed during the aforementioned Assembly has been deemed invalid, and the NRNA will now be overseen by the High Level Committee chaired by Dr. Shesh Ghale, established during the 81st Board Meeting of the ICC on January 15, 2022. The committee includes members such as Dr. Upendra Mahato, Jiba Lamichhane, Dev Man Hirachan, Bhaban Bhatta, Ram Pratap Thapa, and Kumar Panta.

The Division Bench of the Apex Court made a decision on April 3, 2024, declaring that both ICCs have lost their validity. The High Level Committee has been mandated to organize a convention within six months from its first meeting, with 6 additional members from each ICC, totaling 12 members. Consequently, the 11th Assembly of ICC held at Soaltee Hotel has also lost its validity due to the invalidity of the ICC Committee formed by the Hotel Himalaya Assembly.

The court's decision acknowledges that the establishment of NRNA aims to unite the Nepali Diaspora, uphold human rights, and coordinate activities among Nepali people worldwide for the development and promotion of Nepal in the global Diaspora.

Dr. Shesh Ghale and Dr. Upendra Mahato were acknowledged by the Supreme Court for their significant contribution in establishing and recognizing the NRNA, which aims to benefit Nepalese people worldwide. The Court also acknowledged that the prolonged disputes regarding the validity of the ICC were not aligned with the objectives of the NRNA. Additionally, the disputes concerning the delegates, which resulted in numerous controversies, were not resolved in a logical manner and in accordance with the NRNA's constitution.

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The Supreme Court observed that despite the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' concern and supervisory power, as well as its institutional memory regarding the ongoing disputes, no effective measures were taken to resolve these disputes within the NRNA. Consequently, the Supreme Court emphasized the need to settle the disputes in order to uphold the integrity and reputation of the organization.

As a result, following the petition filed by Binod Kuwor, the Supreme Court ruled that the committees established during the assemblies held at Hotel Yak & Yeti and Himalaya Hotel were deemed invalid. The responsibility to organize the 10th International General Assembly was then entrusted to the High Level Committee. The Supreme Court also raised concerns about the approval of the amendment to the NRNA Constitution by the Himalaya Hotel Assembly, questioning the Ministry's failure to fulfill its duties effectively. The Court emphasized the importance of maintaining the unity and cooperation of non-resident Nepalese, as well as the objectives of the NRNA, while preventing any negative impact on Nepalese residing worldwide. Additionally, the Court acknowledged the validity and duties of the High Level Committee without any doubt. It stressed the necessity of addressing issues related to delegate qualifications, selection, membership determination, and fair elections to ensure the organization's integrity. To safeguard the organization's spirit, the Apex Court directed the Ministry of External Affairs to allow the High-Level Committee to continue its functions until the new ICC is elected.

The Court has further stated that the High-Level Committee will consist of an additional 6 members, 3 from the Assembly held at Hotel Yak & Yeti. These members are Binod Kunwor, the President, Umesh Kumar Pudasaini, the Vice President, and Janaki Gurung, the Secretary General. Additionally, Kul Aacharya, Dr. Badri KC, and Rabina Thapa from Hotel Himalaya Assembly will also be part of the Committee, taking turns as the chairperson.

The Court has issued an order stating that the Unity's election should be initiated within 6 months from the first meeting of the High-Level Committee. The Committee is responsible for resolving long-standing disputes within the NRNA, and it will also formulate the rules of procedure for the election. The Supreme Court has expressed full confidence in the responsible functioning of the High-Level Committee and its ability to preserve the unity and integrity of the NRNA.

In order to ensure a fair election by the 10th Assembly, the Court expects the Committee to be supported and facilitated by a high-ranking official from the Government of Nepal's Judicial Services. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will also provide necessary support for the tasks assigned to the High-Level Committee.

Advocate Saroj Krishna Ghimire, legal representative for the petitioner, mentioned that one of the requests put forth by the petitioner was to validate the ICC elected during the 10th Convention at Hotel Yak & Yeti. Despite the Supreme Court's rejection, the ruling appears to be strategic and equitable in setting the stage for a fresh approach to fostering unity within NRNA globally through the election of a new ICC during the 10th Convention. Advocate Ghimire also conveyed his belief that the High Level Committee will successfully appoint the new ICC for NRNA through a democratic process and fair election. Given that the Supreme Court's decision is conclusive, it is incumbent upon all those who have supported NRNA to collaborate and usher in a new era of unity and resilience for the organization.

In relation to the status of NRNA administration under the committee led by Dr. Badri KC, Advocate Ghimire stated that the order has clearly invalidated both ICC committees, rendering the ICC elected at Soaltee Hotel illegitimate in the eyes of the law. With the 10th ICC Committee's legitimacy being subjudice, it was advisable to await the court's verdict before proceeding with the IGA. The power now lies with the High-Level Committee of NRNA established by the court, making the outgoing ICC committees null and void until new elections are held. Any decision-making, financial transactions, or use of organizational resources must be approved by the High-Level Committee to avoid personal liability and maintain the integrity of NRNA.

Advocate Ghimire further emphasized that the NRNA now has the caretaker High-Level Committee, and it is evident that any ICC committee assuming power must promptly relinquish its position in the NRNA office. Additionally, Advocate Ghimire stated that the committee should refrain from making any decisions that would exempt itself from facing contempt of court charges.

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Furthermore, Advocate Ghimire expressed that it is now the responsibility of the Ministry of External Affairs to facilitate the efficient functioning of the Committee. It is expected that the Ministry of External Affairs will soon summon the members of the High-Level Committee. The Committee will then establish its rules of procedure, including criteria for membership, election procedures, and the election of the new ICC of NRNA. Any actions, functions, or exercise of administrative and executive powers by the invalid ICC will be considered illegal and void.

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