Justice Rana recommended for CJ’s post

Kathmandu, December 13

The Constitutional Council today unanimously recommended Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana as the next chief justice.

Leader of opposition Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is also the president of Nepali Congress, was present in today’s CC meeting, said CC member Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe. She said the CC dealt with only one agenda — CJ nomination — as Deuba wanted to end the meeting soon to discuss his party’s affairs with Nepali Congress leaders.

Rana, who is the second senior-most justice,  got nominated for CJ as the Senior-most Justice Deepak Raj Joshee was rejected for the post of CJ by the Parliamentary Hearing Committee on August 3.

The Judicial Council had sent the names of both Rana and Joshee as probable candidates for CJ, but it also mentioned that Joshee was earlier rejected by the PHC for the post.

If confirmed, Rana will assume the office of CJ on January 1 for the next four years before retiring.  As per the constitution, the chief justice can serve for six years,  provided s/he does not reach the retirement age of 65 before completing full term.

As per the record posted on the Supreme Court’s website, Rana was born on 13 December 1957 in Kathmandu. He has been serving as a justice of the apex court since 27 May 2014. He worked as a judge of appellate courts from 15 April 1996 to 26 May 2014.

Rana came into limelight on March 13 when he sprang a surprise on the members of a grand full bench formed under erstwhile chief justice Gopal Parajuli to hear a contempt of court case, saying he was boycotting the bench because he did not want to sit on the bench with Parajuli who should have retired from service last year.

Justice Rana’s move tipped the scales against Parajuli, who was finding it difficult to defend accusation of using multiple dates of birth in his academic certificates and citizenship certificate. The following day Parajuli lost his job after the Judicial Council wrote to him that he had reached retirement age on 5 August 2017.

On 5 May 2017, Rana surprised everybody by issuing a stay order against the impeachment motion registered in the Parliament Secretariat against the erstwhile chief justice Sushila Karki. One major criticism Rana faced in the case was that he did not cite any legal ground for issuing the stay order against a case that some interpreted as a matter of parliamentary privilege. Justice Rana was criticised for using metaphorical expressions, rather than citing legal grounds to stay the Parliament’s proceedings of impeachment against Karki.

A division bench of justices Karki and Tarka Raj Bhatta had  recommended that the Judicial Council take action against Rana, erstwhile chairman  of Special Court Bhup Dhwoj Adhikari and Judge  Komalnath Sharma for acquitting former minister Jay Prakash Prasad Gupta in a corruption case on 11 June 2007 without thoroughly analysing the evidence.

A  JC source, however, told THT that the case had already been settled and that Justice Rana had passed parliamentary confirmation hearing for justice of the SC in 2014.