No cakewalk for Rana at PHC hearing

Kathmandu, December 29

Chief Justice nominee Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana can expect a tough grilling during the Parliamentary Hearing Committee’s confirmation hearing tomorrow.

A PHC member told THT the panel had received an audio recording containing a conversation which the complainant said was between land broker(s) and Justice Rana. “The PHC plans to play the audio during confirmation hearing,” the source said and added that Rana would be asked to verify the voice. The member said tomorrow’s hearing would not be a mere ritual. “We will take decisions on merit.”

PHC member Suman Raj Pyakurel told THT that out of nine complaints against Rana, two complaints were serious. One was his decision to allow Pramod Bikram Shah of Parsa to hold the title of ‘a public pond’ spread in four bigaha land and another decision was to allow former princess Prerana Rajya Laxmi Devi Singh to hold the title of 15 ropani, one ana land in Chhauni, gifted by her father former king Gyanendra.

Pyakurel said Rana’s decision to allow Shah the title of the Parsa pond was wrong because that was not land inherited when his parental property was partitioned. “That pond was used by Hindus during Chhath festival and on the other side, Muslims used the area for their religious activities,” Pyakurel said. “In public interest litigation cases, courts issue orders telling the government to address the issue without giving a verdict in favour of a party,” Pyakurel said.

“I read media reports that there was no option than to confirm Rana. This argument is wrong,” he said and added that if Rana was rejected, senior-most justice of the SC could become acting chief justice till other justices qualified for the post of CJ or the government, with two-thirds majority, could amend the constitution.

Another PHC member said, “PHC should not confirm Rana. Why did he allow a public pond to be registered as private property?” The member said the pond was important for both faiths — Hindus and Muslims.