Impeachment motion filed against Chief Justice RanaAs many as 98 lawmakers of Congress, Maoist Centre and CPN (Unified Socialist) register the motion at the Parliament Secretariat.
An impeachment motion has been registered against Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana.
As many as 98 lawmakers on Sunday morning registered the motion against Rana who has been in the eye of the storm since October.
The lawmakers from the ruling coalition led by Law Minister Dilendra Prasad Badu had reached the Parliament Secretariat on Sunday morning with the impeachment motion against Rana.
“We have registered an impeachment motion against the chief justice,” Dev Gurung, a lawmaker from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) confirmed to the Post.
Gopal Nath Yogi, secretary at the Parliament Secretariat, said lawmakers from the Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Centre) and CPN (Unified Socialist) registered the impeachment motion. “As many as 98 lawmakers have registered the impeachment motion against the chief justice,” Yogi told the Post.
Article 101 (2) of the Constitution of Nepal states that one-fourth of the members of Parliament can register an impeachment motion against any official holding a constitutional position on the ground of failing to perform duty effectively or of working against the constitution or seriously violating their code of conduct.
While one-fourth of the lawmakers can register the impeachment motion, it needs a two-third majority of the parliament to endorse it. The support of the main opposition CPN-UML is a must to endorse the motion, as the parties that have filed the motion have just 133 votes in total.
It needs 181 votes to pass the impeachment motion in the 271-strong Parliament.
An impeachment motion, however, automatically leads to the suspension of the chief justice.
Article 101 (6) of the constitution says after the commencement of impeachment proceedings the chief justice or judge of the Supreme Court shall not be allowed to discharge the duties of his or her office pending the settlement of such proceedings.
The justices from the Supreme Court and the legal professionals had been protesting against Rana since October last year. The justices who had been boycotting the bench returned to hear cases on December 1 after the adoption of the raffle system in finalising the benches and assigning the cases to them. As the justices refused to share a bench with Rana, he hasn’t heard the cases since the adoption of the raffle system.
Lawyers, however, have continued their protests.
With Rana facing automatic suspension, Deepak Kumar Karki, as the senior-most justice, will take the charge of the Supreme Court as acting chief justice.
He can even convene the Constitutional Bench, something that was not possible with Rana, as no justice was willing to share the bench with him. As per the constitution, the Constitutional Bench is headed by the chief justice.
Rana is the second chief justice to face an impeachment motion in Nepal’s judicial history.
In April 2017, the Congress and the Maoist Centre had registered an impeachment motion against the then chief justice Sushila Karki. It was withdrawn in June 2017 following criticism.
Rana was a justice at the Supreme Court then and had issued an order ensuring resumption of work for Karki.
The main opposition CPN-UML has objected to Sunday’s impeachment motion against Rana, calling it a “sudden” move by some ruling parties.
“Our serious attention has been drawn to the sudden move of the ruling coalition in a guerrilla style,” said Subas Nembang, deputy leader of the UML Parliamentary Party.
Nembang said the impeachment motion has come at a time when serious cases are pending at the Supreme Court, including the one filed by his party in relation to formation of the party by some of the lawmakers who were expelled by the party.
“Our party will discuss it and come up with our opinion soon,” Nembang told the Post. “We have taken this impeachment motion seriously.”
The appointments of the judges and justices and their transfer has been affected in the different tiers of courts in the lack of meetings. Currently, one Supreme Court justice, 14 high court judges and 41 district court judges are vacant.
This report has been updated to add more context.