KATHMANDU, August 8: The investigation process against Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana, who was suspended after an impeachment motion was registered against him in parliament, has started after almost five and a half months. The meeting of the House of Representatives (HoR) on Sunday sent the motion to the impeachment recommendation committee of parliament. The committee will call Chief Justice Rana within a week after starting the work.
If the investigation committee endorses the impeachment motion and it is passed by the House, Chief Justice JB Rana will be dismissed from his post. In that case, he will not be entitled to receive any privileges and benefits as a former Chief Justice or appointed or nominated to any public office in the future. But there is confusion as to when the House will conclude the impeachment motion against him.
This impeachment motion, which was registered in the House without the backing of two-thirds of votes, had been stalled since February 13, 2022. The impeachment recommendation committee was also formed only 22 days after the impeachment motion was registered. But the discussion on that was started only on Sunday (August 7). After the discussion, the impeachment proposal was sent to the committee on Sunday itself. There is a legal provision that the impeachment recommendation committee must submit a report with recommendations within a maximum of three months from the date of initiation of its proceedings.
The proposal, which has been stalled for a long time, was passed by parliament three days after the election date was announced. The election date for the provincial and the House of Representatives for the upcoming November 20 was announced on Thursday. The impeachment recommendation committee will submit its report on the proposal in mid-November after starting work immediately. As the term of office of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker will expire on the day before the nomination of candidates for the election, it does not seem that parliament will be able to work after mid-October. According to a source, parliament will be stopped before the discussion on the impeachment motion is concluded in the committee.
Parliament should not only be there to discuss the impeachment motion under process in parliament, but it should also be able to work. Experts say that if parliament is dissolved, only the existing bills will become inactive. They claim that even if parliament is dissolved, the impeachment motion will not be inactive. They argue that the impeachment motion will not conclude until parliament finalizes it. A constitutional expert said, "If this House cannot decide the impeachment motion, the House to be elected through the upcoming elections will have to conclude it.” Currently, only a simple majority of members in parliament seem to be in favor of impeachment, but a two-thirds majority is required for an impeachment motion to be passed. Analysts say that the impeachment process may be prolonged. The tenure of the suspended Chief Justice Rana expires on December 27. The next parliament will be elected in February. The sequence of events shows that this impeachment motion will reach that parliament.
The impeachment motion was registered at the parliament secretariat with the signatures of 98 MPs from the Nepali Congress, CPN (Maoist Center), and CPN ( Unified Socialist). The impeachment motion against Chief Justice Rana has been registered as per Article 101 (2) of the Constitution. The impeachment motion has the signatures of 98 MPs including 39 MPs from the Congress, 42 MPs from the Maoist Center and 17 MPs from the Unified Socialist.
The proponents of the impeachment motion include NC's then whip Pushpa Bhusal, Maoist Chief Whip Dev Gurung, Unified Socialist Chief Whip Jeevan Ram Shrestha, while 95 other lawmakers from these parties have signed as seconders. According to the constitution, one-fourth of the total number of MPs can file an impeachment motion. CJ Rana’s impeachment motion was registered according to the provision that a quarter of the total 271 parliamentarians or or 68 parliamentarians could register the impeachment motion.
The 11-member impeachment recommendation committee formed according to the constitution has Bishnu Paudel, Lal Babu Pandit, Shivamaya Tumbahamfe and Krishna Bhakta Pokharel from UML, Min Bahadur BK and Ram Bahadur Bista from Congress, Yashoda Subedi and Rekha Sharma from Maoist Center, Kalyani Khadka from the Unified Socialist, Ekwal Miya from Loktantrik Samajwadi Party and Pramod Sah from Janata Samajwadi Party. It is said that after receiving the proposal, the recommendation committee should start action as soon as possible. If the suspended Chief Justice Rana attends the committee meeting and submits an explanation but the committee does not find it satisfactory, or if such official does not appear and submit an explanation within the specified period, the committee will have to disclose the same in its report with its recommendations.
It is stated in the rules of the House of Representatives, “The impeachment recommendation committee must submit a report with recommendations within three months at most from the date of initiation of its proceedings.”
After the impeachment recommendation committee presents its report to the House, the Speaker has to submit a proposal to the House of Representatives for its consideration. When the report is discussed in the House, a member may submit an amendment to the report, and may propose that the report be sent back to the impeachment recommendation committee for re-investigation regarding a specific matter. If the motion to be sent back is approved, the report will be sent to the impeachment recommendation committee for further discussion. The committee will also investigate again within seven days and send its report to the meeting. After that, in the House of Representatives meeting, a proposal can be submitted by a committee member to approve the recommendation mentioned in the report. The decision on the impeachment motion shall be taken by division of votes with the signatures of the members of the House of Representatives. If the impeachment motion is passed by a two-thirds majority, CJ Rana will be dismissed from his post.