Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana, who is presiding over the five-member constitutional bench hearing the House dissolution case, said a new constitutional bench would be formed on June 6, as justices Deepak Kumar Karki and Anand Mohan Bhattarai opted out of the bench today after justices Tej Bahadur KC and Bam Kumar Shrestha refused to recuse themselves from the case.

Earlier, the petitioners challenging the House dissolution case had demanded that justices KC and Shrestha recuse themselves from the case, citing conflict of interest. Justice Shrestha was on the Supreme Court bench that nullified the unification of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre. Justice KC, on the other hand, was on the SC bench that rejected the review petition challenging the decision nullifying the unification of the CPN-UML and the CPN-MC.

The petitioners argued that the nullification of the unification of the UML and the CPN-MC eventually led to the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

Justices KC and Shrestha, however, argued that there was no meaningful link between Rishi Ram Kattel's case against Nepal Communist Party (NCP) (that led to the nullification of the unification of the UML and the CPN-MC) and the HoR dissolution case.

Justices KC and Shrestha argued that there was an established principle in the USA whereby judges recused themselves from cases in which they had economic interest or when there was a strong possibility that their decision would be biased, but that was unlikely in this case.

Earlier, when the HoR was dissolved for the first time on December 20, Justice Hari Krishna Karki recused himself from the HoR dissolution case after petitioners pointed out that he was appointed the attorney general by the KP Sharma Oli government before being nominated as SC justice.

The Supreme Court Bar Association office bearers, meanwhile, met CJ Rana today and urged him to appoint four senior-most justices to the constitutional bench headed by him to avoid any controversy, SCBA Chief Purna Man Shakya told THT.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 2, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.