KATHMANDU, Dec 8: The Supreme Court remained tense on Wednesday after a sudden move of the federal parliament secretariat to give a letter to suspended Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana that the impeachment motion against him was rendered ineffective.
The tension ran high at the apex court and its premises in the afternoon with the news that suspended Rana was preparing to arrive at the SC to resume his office. Legal practitioners along with the office bearers of Nepal Bar Association (NBA) and Supreme Court Bar Association gathered at the SC's main entrance to prevent Rana from entering the office.
Government ministers and home ministry officials were equally concerned with this 'unanticipated' move of the parliament secretariat. While the Home Ministry directed police officials concerned not to escort Rana to his office, Government Spokesperson Gyanendra Bahadur Karki clarified that the impeachment motion was still alive and this would be presented before the new parliament.
The plan of suspended CJ Rana could not materialize on Wednesday as the government had earlier withdrawn its police escort shortly after an impeachment motion was filed against him. Although Rana reportedly planned to come to the office on foot, he reportedly changed his mind keeping in view of the protest of legal professionals at the main entrance of the apex court.
As the ruling political parties were busy negotiating to form a new government, the federal parliament's General Secretary Dr Bharat Raj Gautam had sent a letter to the Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Supreme Court, the Judicial Council, the Constitutional Council and the Office of the Chief Justice stating that the impeachment motion against CJ Rana was already ineffective. This came days after Rana filed an application at the federal parliament secretariat demanding that his impeachment motion be annulled as the term of the erstwhile parliament was over without concluding the impeachment motion against him.
Lawmakers of the ruling alliance had filed an impeachment motion against CJ Rana at the federal parliament secretariat demanding removal of CJ Rana on February 11. A total of 98 lawmakers of the erstwhile parliament had signed in the impeachment motion.
Although it was the constitutional bench led by CJ Rana himself that reinstated the parliament that was dissolved by the then Oli-led government, there are apprehensions among the leaders of the ruling parties that Rana was acting at the behest of CPN-UML Chairman K P Oli. The Deuba-led government was formed after the CJ-led constitutional bench reinstated the parliament.
CJ Rana is accused of repeatedly deferring the hearing on the case related to the appointments made by the Oli-led government in various constitutional bodies even as the CC meeting was held without the participation of House Speaker and the opposition party leader. Ruling party leaders alleged that CJ Rana planned to disband Madhav Kumar Nepal-led CPN (Unified Socialist) party, whose support was crucial for the survival of the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government.
Chances of Rana resuming office are slim
With the NBA and SC Bar Association and SC full bench standing against the resumption of CJ Rana to work, the chances of Rana returning to work is very unlikely. Rana is automatically retiring on December 13 due to the age limit of 65 years to assume office as CJ or justice of the apex court.
While the SC Bar Association has filed a writ petition at the apex court demanding the decision of federal parliament secretariat be scrapped, the Supreme Court has asked the federal parliament secretariat to furnish the legal ground on the basis on which the decision was taken. As Thursday is a public holiday, the apex court is expected to get the response from the parliament secretariat on Friday, if not on Sunday.
Also, the apex court has scheduled hearing on the writ petition filed by SC Bar Association, questioning the legitimacy of the decision made by the federal parliament secretariat, on Friday. "There are hardly any chances of Rana returning to his office," said a top NBA official.
Meanwhile, a full bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday summoned the federal parliament secretariat to inquire about the legal and constitutional grounds to render the impeachment motion against suspended CJ Rana ineffective.
The SC full bench has asked four questions to the federal parliament secretariat including whether the impeachment motion registered at the federal parliament is still effective, whether the motion filed in the erstwhile parliament will be registered in the new parliament and when was the impeachment motion considered ineffective. The apex court is expected to give its opinion after it receives a reply from the federal parliament secretariat.