House panel recommends suspended CJ’s impeachmentRana, however, is preparing to return to the Supreme Court as chief justice.
The Impeachment Recommendation Committee has concluded that there is ample ground to impeach suspended Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana.
Rana, who remained defiant during the full course of interrogation, however, is preparing to return to the Supreme Court on Sunday as the tenure of the House of Representatives ended without deciding the fate of the impeachment motion, sources close to him say.
Multiple sources confirmed to the Post that Rana has sent a message to the court administration that he will resume his office from Sunday.
The constitution says the bill that is originated in the lower house, which doesn’t get endorsed from both the Houses, becomes ineffective once its term comes to an end.
However, the constitution doesn’t say anything about the impeachment motion. Legal experts and lawmakers are divided whether or not the impeachment motion will continue in the new House.
Rana is preparing to return to the judiciary arguing that the motion has become null and void with the expiry of the lower house’s tenure.
“We have heard that Rana is planning to resume his work from Sunday,” said a source at the Supreme Court. “However, there will be resistance from the Nepal Bar Association and the Supreme Court Bar Association while other justices too will not accept him back.”
Confirming Rana’s notice to a registrar, three Supreme Court justices told the Post, seeking not to be named, that they would not share the bench with Rana even if he returned. In October last year, during protests against Rana, Supreme Court justices had boycotted benches for days.
Rana was suspended on February 13 following the registration of the impeachment motion against him. Post’s multiple attempts to reach out to Rana, however, failed.
Earlier, submitting its probe report to Speaker Agni Sapkota, the committee recommended that the House of Representatives impeach Rana.
The report was endorsed through majority votes of the committee as the main opposition CPN-UML and Loktantrik Samajbadi Party stood against the recommendation, saying that the conclusion was derived without properly looking into the allegations against Rana.
As many as 98 lawmakers from the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and the CPN (Unified Socialist) on February 13 had registered the impeachment motion against Rana, levelling 21 charges against him. Promoting corruption in the judiciary, interfering in the appointment of justices and judges, bargaining for a share in the Cabinet, passing controversial decisions in several cases and failing to perform his constitutional duties are some of the allegations.
“We have recommended that the lower house impeach Rana,” Ram Bahadur Bista, coordinator of the committee, told the Post. “Rana failed to defend himself against the allegations.”
Bista said the report was endorsed as six in the 11-member committee stood for impeaching Rana. Five members in the committee—four from the UML and one from the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party—however, registered an eight-point note of dissent.
“Our reservation is not related to whether or not to impeach Rana. We couldn’t agree in the process,” said Bishnu Poudel, a member of the committee from the UML. “The ruling parties have recommended the impeachment without proper investigation into the allegations against Rana.”
The report was submitted hours before the tenure of the lower house ended on Saturday midnight. The five-year term came to its end after President Bidya Devi
Bhandari prorogued the House session on the government’s recommendation.
The committee had asked Rana 43 questions over five days. On Saturday, it asked supplementary questions after Rana signed his 174-page verbatim. Though the report was registered in the House, it couldn’t take the issue up.
Ruling party lawmakers say the motion will be passed on to the House elected from the November 20 polls. “The new House will decide on the motion,” Min Bishwakarma, a Nepali Congress member on the committee, told the Post.
Rana retires on December 12 and there are slim chances of a new House being constituted before his retirement.
“I don’t think the new House will entertain the motion. No law says so,” Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe, a UML member on the committee, told the Post.