Hearing of the contempt of court cases against Dr Govinda KC and Kantipur has become uncertain after Chief Justice (CJ) Gopal Parajuli did not assign any bench for the cases on Tuesday.
Hearing of the cases, both related to CJ Parajuli including the controversy of date of birth among others, had resumed on Sunday under the seven-member full bench headed by CJ Parajuli himself.
But the hearing was stopped on Monday after Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana, who is in line to succeed Parajuli as CJ, refused to remain in the Parajuli-led full bench arguing that Parajuli should have retired in July, 2017 on the basis of his citizenship certificate and other documents.
Other Supreme Court (SC) justices had met CJ Parajuli after Rana’s boycott and advised him to recuse himself from setting up benches and delivery of justice.
CJ Parajuli, however, set up all the benches on Tuesday. Rana has not been kept in any of the benches.
Parajuli had assigned the contempt of court case initiated by the SC on its own for the orthopedic surgeon’s comments against the CJ, and the one lodged against Kanitpur for reporting on the controversy of Parajuli’s date of birth to a seven-man full bench headed by him on Sunday.
But Rana–who was part of the Parajuli-led full bench along with Om Prakash Mishra, Deepak Kumar Karki, Kedar Prasad Chalise, Sarada Prasad Ghimire and Tej Bahadur KC–announced boycott of all the benches of Parajuli stating that study of Parajuli’s documents showed three different dates of birth.
“I have different opinion on this case. We looked at all the documents and certificates of CJ yesterday. We studied all the certificates from Sharada Secondary School to Tribhuvan University. We found different dates of birth after looking at his certificates,” Rana announced entering the court room that was waiting for the seven justices to start hearing of the case.
“There is a difference of more than a year in these three dates of birth. The Judicial Council Act states that the earliest date should be considered official in case of multiple dates of birth. He should have retired last July according to that,” Rana added.
Rana claimed that Parajuli has been in office till now by getting a separate date of birth recognized by the Judicial Council.
“We did not know this fact earlier. We have known now. I cannot remain a mere spectator now,” he stated. “I have decided to act accordingly as it is not legally and morally right to sit on the bench assigned by a person who should have already retired,” he said.
This is the first instance of any SC justice boycotting a full bench led by the CJ in Nepal’s judicial history.
A joint bench of justices Purushottam Bhandari and Bam Kumar Shrestha on January 10 had ordered release of Dr KC, who had started fast-unto-death demanding resignation of Parajuli, on guarantee of senior advocate Surendra Bhandari considering the health of Dr KC.
The bench has also asked for the file about CJ Parajuli’s citizenship certificate and educational certificates as demanded by Dr KC while recording his statement to the SC. “Do seek copies of both the citizenship certificates issued in the name of Gopal Parajuli from the Kathmandu District Administration Office and the decision taken by the Judicial Council about age, and copies of the educational certificates,” the SC order reads.
Rana and other justices on the full bench got to see Parajuli’s certificates as per that order.
The bench had also asked for the file of the verdict given on Dr Shashi Sharma’s petition. Dr KC had started his 14th fast-unto-death for dismissal of CJ Parajuli after the joint bench of Parajuli and Justice Dipak Kumar Karki ordered reinstatement of Dr Shashi Sharma as dean of Institute of Medicine under the Tribhuvan University (TU).
The joint bench after conducting the final hearing of the writ petition filed by Dr Sharma four years ago demanding his reinstatement had ordered his reinstatement for four days if he so wishes.
The contempt of court case against Kantipur was filed for publishing a news report titled ‘Four dates of birth of CJ Gopal Parajuli in government documents.’