Nepal’s Chief Justice says will stop allocating cases to benches at his discretion

Chief Justice of Nepal’s Supreme Court, Cholendra Shumsher Rana, announced on Sunday that he would give up the discretionary practice of allocating cases to benches “at will”.

Rana is likely to face an impeachment motion in parliament amid controversy regarding his interactions with politicians and allegations that he pushed for a family member to be on Nepal’s council of ministers.

He agreed to end the practice of allocating cases to the benches of his choice from Tuesday, and to instate a system to select benches at random, during a meeting with a delegation of the Nepal Bar Association. Rana also told the delegation that he had no role in having his brother-in-law Gajendra Hamal inducted in the council of ministers on October 8, asserting it was just a coincidence that they were related. Hamal resigned less than 72 hours after taking office amid allegations about Rana’s involvement in his induction into the government.

Meanwhile, an informal meeting of some Supreme Court judges that took place on Sunday is believed to have resulted in those judges deciding not to attend the “full court” meeting called by Rana on Monday, where he is expected to reiterate his rejection of the allegations.

A Supreme Court judge told The Indian Express that the Chief Justice had twice gone back on his word on the issue of ending the discretion-guided system of allocating cases to benches of his choice.

A high-level committee headed by Supreme Court judge Harikrishna Karki had recommended replacing the existing discretionary system with an automated mechanism.

Rana has faced allegations of misusing his discretionary powers in allocation of cases, especially those of a political nature.

By William Regal

Used to think I was a tad indecisive, but now I’m not quite sure.

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