Dec 28, 2018-
The Parliamentary Hearing Committee has received nine complaints against chief justice nominee Cholendra Sumsher Rana, raising questions over his rulings in the past.
The Constitutional Council on December 13 unanimously nominated Rana, senior most justice at the Supreme Court, to head the judiciary. He will be appointed for the new role once the House committee endorses his name after hearing. The complainants have raised questions over his ruling to allow casinos to operate without clearing millions of rupees in tax dues. In April 2014, the government shut down the casinos not adhering to the Casino Regulations-2013 and scrapped the licence of those defaulting on royalties.
At least three casinos resumed operations after a year following the interim order from the apex court bench which included Rana. The order allowed continuation of the casinos even without clearing their dues.
According to a member of the hearing committee, another person has raised questions about his ruling to let an individual own a public pond in Birgunj. Quashing the rulings of the district and then appellate courts, his bench ordered the pond to be registered as personal property.
Niru Devi Pal, a member of the committee, said all those who filed the complaints have been called for a discussion on Friday noon. “Their concerns will be put before Rana during the hearing,” she said. Rana’s tenures at the appellate court, Special Court and the apex court have not been free of controversies.
His ruling as a judge in the erstwhile Biratnagar Appellate Court, which interpreted the card game called “marriage” not as gambling but as an intellectual exercise, is one of the most criticised judgments of his judicial career spanning two decades. A complainant has reminded the House committee of the judgment. Each one of them questioning Rana’s role has said he is unfit to lead the judiciary, urging the committee to reject his nomination.
The House committee has the authority to reject a nominee, as it did in case of Deepak Raj Joshi a few months ago, if it isn’t convinced by Rana’s answers. After the Constitutional Council’s recommendation, the House committee issued a 10-day notice for the general public to file complaints. If Rana clears the hearing, he will be the first chief justice to be appointed for a full four-year term after Bishwo Nath Upadhyaya in 1995.
Another member said the committee has received a complaint questioning his ruling against Parliament not to take forward the impeachment filed against then chief justice Sushila Karki. It argues that the apex court breached its jurisdiction by issuing an order against Parliament, which has the authority to impeach members of constitutional bodies.