Day after surviving impeachment move, Nepal CJ says put under house arrest

World News

The Nepal government Sunday withdrew the security cover provided to Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana even as it upped police deployment and surveillance around his residence, sparking allegations he had been placed under house arrest.

The development came a day after Rana survived a move to remove him from office as the House of Representatives, which was due to hear an impeachment motion against him, ended its term Saturday. Nepal is headed for a general election on November 20.

Sources told The Indian Express President Bidhya Debi Bhandari has taken note of the development, particularly as it came just after she had invited Rana to attend the official Constitution Day event on Monday.

Chief Justice Rana has been in the eye of a storm since lawmakers of the ruling coalition sought his impeachment over allegations of graft and also for some judgments which they see as controversial.

He has since accused the outgoing Prime Minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba, and some other leaders of the coalition government of plotting to replace him with a junior judge.

As he prepared to resume office Sunday, Rana said the government restricted his movement by deploying troops in and around his official residence in Kathmandu.

“I am virtually under house arrest,” he told some friends in the establishment over the phone. He later told The Indian Express his security cover, which comprised Army personnel as well, had been withdrawn.

The government did not comment on Rana’s claims.

The motion for impeachment against the Chief Justice had been filed in February this year. It also placed him under suspension by default.

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With the House of Representatives having ceased to exist now, and the motion not taken up, the country’s legal fraternity is divided on a key question: did the motion die with the term of the House, thus lifting Rana’s suspension, or will it be the property of the next session after a new government comes to power.

Former Prime Minister K P Oli, who slammed the Deuba government for the Chief Justice’s “house arrest”, said the motion of impeachment against Rana was now “irrelevant”.

With the Chief Justice set to retire on December 13, some political observers feel the ruling coalition deliberately sat on the impeachment motion against Rana for six months so as to let his suspension continue.

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