Despite serious allegations over his judgments in various capacities in the past, lawmakers on Tuesday unanimously approved the recommendation of Cholendra Shumsher Rana as the chief justice.
Members of the Parliamentary Hearing Committee had levelled a dozen allegations against the CJ nominee, raising serious questions over his verdicts while he served at the appellate, special and apex courts. They even sought clarification as to how a person with so many allegations against him could lead the judiciary fairly.
However, all the lawmakers quizzing him decided to endorse his nomination after Rana furnished his clarification.
Laxman Lal Karna, chairman of the committee, announced his endorsement with the consent of lawmakers. Rana will replace Om Prakash Mishra, who retired on Tuesday, as the chief of the judiciary after the hearing committee’s decision is authenticated by President Bidya Devi Bhandari.
Responding to the concerns of lawmakers, Rana said he would give no room for criticism against him and the judiciary during his tenure. He claimed that none of his rulings had mala fide intentions and were fully based on the legal provisions.
Shiva Kumar Mandal, a member of the commission, told the Post that it was obvious for his name to be endorsed as there was no alternative to him. Except Rana, no other justice in the apex court meets the constitutional requirement—of at least three years of experience as a Supreme Court justice.
Only Rana and Deepak Joshi, who was rejected by the hearing committee for the top post earlier, met the criteria. “Had there been other options, the decision could have been different,” Mandal told the Post, adding that not all lawmakers were convinced with Rana’s clarification.
Before giving their approval, lawmakers from the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) had asked Rana to be mindful that even if he had passed hearing, there was Parliament watching his activities.
NCP lawmakers Yogesh Bhattarai and Surendra Pandey warned that they hold a two-thirds majority in the House, which was enough to pass an impeachment motion against anybody. “I urge you not to forget there is Parliament above the House committee,” said Bhattarai.
While quizzing Rana on Sunday and Tuesday, lawmakers asked a series of questions over his decision to acquit gamblers arguing that the card game called “marriage” was not gambling.
On his order to register a public pond in Birgunj as individual property, Rana said the decision was based on the records of the land revenue office which showed the person had been paying land tax for the pond.
Answering another question regarding his decision to allow Prerna Rajya Laxmi Shah to own property that once belonged to former king Birendra Shah, Rana said the land was given to her by her father Gyanendra Shah in dowry before the government decided to bring the property owned formerly by Birendra under the Nepal Trust.
“The land was owned by Prerna before the law governing the Nepal Trust came into force,” he said, ruling out controversy on the matter. Rana is scheduled to take the oath from the President on Wednesday before he takes charge of the apex court in the afternoon. He will be the first chief justice to be appointed for a full four-year term after Bishwo Nath Upadhyay in 1995.