Kathmandu, March 12
The Supreme Court has been thrown into turmoil following Justice Cholendra Shamsher JB Rana’s boycott of the seven-member extended full bench, prompting several justices to “advise” Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli to step down.
Justice Rana, one of the seven justices on the extended full bench assigned to hear the contempt of court case against Dr Govinda KC and Kantipur daily’s managers and journalists, boycotted the bench today, saying CJ Parajuli should have retired on August 5, 2017, on the basis of his age. The bench did not hear the two cases and it is not clear when the next hearing will be scheduled.
Before the seven-member bench could start hearing today, Rana read out his written notes in front of the justices, saying CJ Parajuli was supposed to retire on August 5, 2017, and it will be against moral principles and legal provisions to sit on the bench formed by Parajuli.
Rana, who heard arguments of petitioners yesterday when the case was first heard, said in his statement that CJ Parajuli had shown his documents yesterday to other justices on the extended full bench which showed that he had multiple birth dates. Rana said as per the Judicial Council Act, August 5, 1952, should be validated as Parajuli’s date of birth.
“Right honourable chief justice should have accepted his date of birth as stated in his SLC character certificate, but instead he his holding the office on the basis of a decision taken by the Judicial Council. This is akin to undermining the dignity of the post of chief justice. Nobody is above the law and justices should never compromise on judicial independence. They should abide by and enforce these principles. They cannot violate these principles,” Justice Rana said in his statement.
Justice Rana added that when Parajuli obtained his citizenship certificate on August 5, 1973, it was stated that he had attained 21 years of age. Rana added that in the character certificate issued by Chitwan-based Sharada Madhyamik Vidyalaya after passing send-up exams, his date of birth was stated as April 28, 1953. Later when he obtained a duplicate citizenship certificate, his date of birth was stated to be April 28, 1953. Justice Rana said all the certificates issued by law college stated Parajuli’s date of birth as April 28, 1954.
Justice Rana added that the document issued by Employees Provident Fund stated that he was born on April 25, 1954 and the character certificate issued by Nepal Rastriya Bidyapeeth after passing school leaving certificate examination also stated his date of birth as April 25, 1954.
Justice Rana said since two of his birth dates- August 5, 1952, and April 25, 1954, had a difference of more than one year, as per the Judicial Council Act, the first date of birth should be considered valid.
Constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya said never before had a justice boycotted a bench in Nepal’s judicial history. He hoped that such incidents would not recur. “It will harm both the judiciary and the media. If they are weakened, democracy will be in peril,” he added.
A version of this article appears in print on March 13, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.