Kathmandu. The letter from Bharatraj Gautam, Secretary General of the Parliament Secretariat, clearing Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana, who is the target of an impeachment motion in the House of Representatives, has been put on hold by the Supreme Court.
A setback for Rana, who wanted to leave the SC with a good reputation, is the stay order issued by the five-member constitution bench headed by Acting Chief Justice Hari Krishna Karki in response to a writ petition filed against Gautam’s decision to clear CJ Rana. Rana will leave the military on December 13 due to age.
The defendants were also given a show cause notice by the SC, instructing them to submit written responses via the Office of the Attorney General within seven days. Rana was given seven days to provide a written response, either by himself or through an agent, according to the highest court.
Rana has been suspended since February 13 when 98 lawmakers from the ruling alliance filed an impeachment motion against him, accusing him of favoritism, corruption, and seeking a quid pro quo agreement with the executive. Secretary General of the Parliament Secretariat Gautam will also have to justify his decision to clear Rana.
The bench noted that the Impeachment Recommendation Committee, which the HoR had established, had recommended that the subject be brought up in the following HoR after the election. Despite claiming that the letter that had barred Rana from carrying out his duties as CJ was no longer valid, the SC said secretary general failed to articulate any legal justification for ending Rana’s suspension.
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It would not be appropriate for the court to permit execution of the secretary general’s letter, the SC noted in its interim order, as the petitioners have raised an important question about whether the secretary general of the Parliament Secretariat used the power granted to the HoR by the constitution to lift Rana’s suspension.
According to the former attorney general Badri Bahadur Karki, because of the obstruction of justice caused by Gautam and Rana’s actions, they may be charged with contempt of court. Shambhu Thapa, a senior attorney, requested the bench to inform Rana that he had engaged in corruption and could no longer serve as the CJ.
He contended that the impeachment motion was still valid after the House of Representatives’ term had ended. Thapa stated, “New HoR will take up the case.” He claimed that the secretary general lacked the power to exonerate Rana. Thapa maintained that Gautam and Rana’s fraudulent conspiracy to undermine the constitution amounted to nothing less than sedition.
Purna Man Shakya, the president of the SC Bar Association and one of the petitioners, stated that if Gautam’s clean bill of health for Rana was upheld, the chief justice and prime minister might each be removed from office by a letter from the secretary of the Judicial Council. He maintained that the HoR had jurisdiction over the Rana impeachment issue and that no government employee had the right to sabotage the case before it was decided by the appropriate body.
The five-member constitutional bench, chaired by Karki, heard the case. Bishwombhar Prasad Shrestha, Ishwar Khatiwada, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, and Anil Kumar Sinha are additional justices who sit on the bench.
A writ case was submitted to the Supreme Court on December 7 by nine attorneys, including Shakya, Vice-President of the SCBA Mukunda Prasad Paudel, and Attorney Bikash Bhattarai, requesting that the court postpone the implementation of Gautam’s ruling.
They maintained that only the elected members of the HoR had the authority to deem the impeachment resolution brought against Rana invalid. Petitioners claimed that Gautam’s action, which he took just before the new HoR meeting began, was inherently unconstitutional because it was intended to negate the new HoR’s authority.