Chief Justice (CJ) Cholendra Shumsher Rana has agreed to constitute the constitutional bench hearing the petitions related to the House dissolution on the basis of seniority.
CJ Rana told the representatives of Supreme Court (SC) Bar Association who met him Tuesday that he will amend the regulation for operation of the Supreme Court (SC) to that regard. The bar representatives advised CJ Rana to conduct the hearing without controversy.
"CJ Rana told us that he will form the constitutional bench on the basis of seniority amending the regulation," Chairman of SC Bar Association Purna Man Shakya told Setopati. "He has said that the regulation will be amended within a week."
Shakya added that the new regulation will be endorsed by the full court of the Apex Court. Hearing on the petitions that was scheduled to continue Tuesday is likely to be called off to constitute a new bench.
CJ Rana, and Justices Deepak Kumar Karki, Meera Khadka, Hari Krishna Karki and Bishwambhar Shrestha will be in the constitutional bench if it is constituted on the basis of seniority.
Ishwore Prasad Khatiwada will replace Hari Krishna Karki, who had recused himself from the case about dissolution of the House on December 20 after advocates raised questions about his presence in the bench pointing he was attorney general when KP Sharma Oli first became prime minister five years ago, again opts for recusal.
The SC justices were divided after questions were asked about two justices in the constitutional bench hearing the petitions related to House dissolution.
The meeting of 10 senior justices in the roster of 13 for constitutional bench discussed the principles about recusal of judges, questions raised about the two justices during the hearing and other issues.
The 13-strong roster for constitutional bench includes Chief Justice (CJ) Cholendra Shumsher Rana, and Justices Deepak Kumar Karki, Meera Khadka, Hari Krishna Karki, Bishwambhar Shrestha, Ishwore Prasad Khatiwada, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, Anil Sinha, Prakash Singh Raut, Sapana Pradhan Malla, Tej Bahadur KC, Bam Kumar Shrestha and Tanka Bahadur Moktan.
All the justices in the roster apart from CJ Rana, Tej Bahadur KC and Bam Kumar Shrestha attended the Monday meeting.
CJ Rana held a meeting of the five-strong constitutional bench on Sunday after questions were raised about Shrestha and KC during the hearing. Justices Deepak Kumar Karki and Ananda Mohan Bhattarai suggested during the meeting that it would be better for the two justices to recuse themselves but CJ Rana said that KC and Shrestha should take the decision themselves.
Karki and Bhattarai then demanded the matter be discussed by all 13 justices in the roster for constitutional bench but CJ Rana refused to comply.
KC and Shrestha wrote to the remaining three justices in the bench on Monday that they have no reservations about hearing the case despite the questions raised about them
The 10 justices out of the roster of 13 met after refusal of KC and Shrestha for recusal.
Lawyers pleading on behalf of the petitioners have been protesting against presence of Justices Bam Kumar Shrestha and Tej Bahadur KC in the constitutional bench hearing the petitions related to the House dissolution.
Shrestha was part of the joint bench also including Kumar Regmi that invalidated the unification of CPN on March 7 reinstating CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) to the state before their unification while KC was part of the bench that refused to review that verdict.
Similarly, KC is the only justice out of the four in the five-strong constitutional bench, that reinstated the House after it was dissolved on December 20, 2020, to have been repeated in the bench by CJ Rana.
There were heated and sarcastic exchanges between the lawyers and CJ Rana while arguing about the issue during the hearing on Sunday.