With Rana’s impeachment motion tabled in the House, new questions arise

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The impeachment motion against Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana has been tabled in the House of Representatives for further discussion, a month after it was filed in parliament.

Dev Gurung, chief whip of the CPN (Maoist Centre), tabled the motion on Sunday, outlining 21 reasons why Rana should be impeached.

Rana remains suspended since February 13, the day when 98 deputies from the Nepali Congress, the Maoist Center and the CPN (Unified Socialist) registered the motion at the secretariat of Parliament.

One of the charges against Rana, presented by Gurung on Sunday, is that the now-suspended chief justice not only used his family members, but also judges and justices as intermediaries to commit acts of corruption and gain money. money by illegal means.

The same charge is also listed in the impeachment motion that lawmakers submitted on Feb. 13 in an attempt to impeach him.

“Rana has been involved in illegal income through corruption and irregularities by mobilizing his family members and relatives, as well as judges, judges and officials appointed by him,” the allegation reads. “As President of the Judicial Council it failed to maintain transparency and made appointments arbitrarily.

Other charges include incompetence and failure to perform the desired role as chief justice and promoting corruption and lawlessness in the courts. Allegations backed by lawmakers from all three ruling parties also claim that he abused his discretion to fix the benches and finalize the list of causes, thereby fostering corruption.

The way the three parties proposed the impeachment motion raised quite a few eyebrows, with the main opposition seeing an ulterior motive.

Now that the motion has been formally filed before lawmakers to decide, constitutional and legal experts are wondering what should be the fate of those judges and officials who the 98 lawmakers say “played complicit roles” with Rana.

According to them, if what the 98 lawmakers of the Sovereign Parliament claim is right, action should also be taken against those who colluded with Rana in promoting corruption.

“The complaint has created a moral and legal obligation for the parties and legislators to take action against those they believe have supported the promotion of corruption and irregularities in the justice system,” said lead attorney Dinesh. Tripathi, president of the Constitutional Lawyers’ Forum. the post office. “They can’t just make claims and run away.”

As many as seven justices have been appointed to the Supreme Court since Rana became Chief Justice in January 2020, while around two dozen have been appointed High Court judges. The number of district court judges appointed by the Judicial Council headed by Rana is even higher.

Rana’s role as chief justice was first called into question in October when as many as 19 Supreme Court justices refused to attend the benches, demanding the lottery system to prepare the list of causes be implemented, as suggested by the study group headed by Justice Hari Krishna Karki.

The charges against Rana were that he abused the prerogative to assign cases by choosing judges of his choice.

Lawyers then joined the judges’ protest, alleging that Rana is corrupt and that they would not attend the hearings unless he resigns. The legal crisis continued for months, with hearings stalled until December 1.

Political parties, however, dragged their feet, ignoring calls by lawyers to file an impeachment petition against him.

After the introduction of the lottery system, the judges returned to the benches to hear the cases, but the lawyers continued their protest.

And suddenly, on February 13, three parties in the ruling coalition tabled the impeachment motion.

On March 6, parliament formed an 11-member impeachment recommendation committee to investigate the allegations against Rana.

Now questions arise as to what will happen to those believed to be Rana’s accomplices if the committee finds all the charges against Rana valid and justified.

The lawmakers, who made these claims, however, have no clear answer to whom they want to point in their claims. They were unclear whether action would be taken against those they claim were Rana’s partners in corruption.

“It is known to all that Rana has been involved in corruption in collusion with other judges, judges and officials. He made them work as middlemen,” Gurung, who is one of the authors of the motion, told the Post. “Now, as he is not in court, the trend has stopped.”

Gurung gave no examples to show that “the trend has stopped”.

When asked if the lawmakers had any evidence to claim that other justices and justices had acted as intermediaries, Jeevan Ram Shrestha, chief whip of the United Socialist, said: “Senior lawyers and lawyers they themselves made these statements in their speeches. Why can’t we trust them?

Rudra Prasad Pokharel, treasurer of the Nepal Bar Association, however, said lawmakers cannot say they made the charges based on hearsay.

“They must take action against other judges and justices who they believe have been involved in supporting Rana in corruption,” Pokhrel told the Post. “If they don’t, you have to understand that they lied to Parliament. You cannot lie to the representatives of the sovereign people.

Constitutional and legal experts say it is undeniable that the justice system is in dire need of reform. But there are systemic issues, and actions against a judge or two won’t be enough to shake off the rot that has set in deep.

If lawmakers also believe other judges were implicated in corruption, according to Tripathi, impeachment petitions must also be filed against them.

If lawmakers are very familiar with the judges they believe have been complicit with Rana, the Judicial Council should open an investigation, Tripathi said.

“Comprehensive reform is needed in the justice system and the impeachment motion against Rana is just one step towards that,” he told the Post.

Now that the impeachment motion against Rana has been tabled in the House, the committee must investigate each of the allegations against him.

According to the procedure, Rana will have a chance to defend herself.

According to Rojnath Pandey, spokesman for the Secretariat of Parliament, deliberations on the motion are expected to conclude when the House meets on Wednesday and details will be sent to the impeachment recommending committee to study the matter.

The committee can spend up to three months investigating the allegations. The investigation report is then presented to the Chamber, which can grant an additional 15 days if necessary. But there is no deadline for putting the motion to a vote.

To impeach Rana, two-thirds of the members of the lower house, which currently has 271 members, must vote in favour. This means that 181 lawmakers must vote in favor of the motion. As the Nepali Congress (61 legislators), the Maoist Center (49 legislators) and the United Socialist (23 legislators) together have 133 combined votes, the support of 48 additional legislators is essential.

The motion cannot pass without the support of the UML, the largest party in parliament, which has 97 deputies.

Constitutional experts say every allegation must be investigated before the impeachment motion is put to a vote.

“There must be a thorough investigation into all allegations and Rana should be given the opportunity to defend herself,” Chandra Kant Gyawali, a senior lawyer specializing in constitutional issues, told the Post. “Only allegations that are established shall be presented to the House when the motion is put to a vote.”

A Supreme Court judge said the allegations must be supported by facts.

According to the judge, who spoke on condition of anonymity, if the claims that other judges appointed by the Judicial Council chaired by Rana acted as intermediaries are correct, then they should also be brought to trial .

“These are serious allegations that cannot be based on hearsay. Now Parliament has the challenge of proving the allegations,” the justice said. “There are numerous allegations in the list of 21 that are not eligible to be grounds for impeachment.”

One of the allegations, for example, states that Rana failed to take initiatives to implement Judge Karki’s report which stated that there was corruption in the judiciary.

“However, the full assembly never accepted the report and there is no obligation to implement a report that the court did not accept,” the justice said.

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