Nepal’s apex court forwards petitions against Parliament’s dissolution to Constitutional bench

Shirish B Pradhan
·5-min read

Kathmandu, Dec 23 (PTI) Nepal's Supreme Court on Wednesday forwarded all writ petitions challenging Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's move to abruptly dissolve the Parliament to a Constitutional bench, amid an intensified struggle between the two warring factions of the Nepal Communist Party to wrest control of the ruling party.

Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana’s single bench passed the order after a preliminary hearing on the 12 different writ petitions filed against the dissolution of the House of Representatives, according to court sources.

The Constitutional bench will start the hearing on Friday. The bench is led by Chief Justice Rana and will have four other justices who will be picked by him.

During the hearing on Wednesday, senior lawyers citing Constitutional provisions argued that Prime Minister Oli has no right to dissolve the House so long as there is a possibility of forming an alternative government.

It was a coup against the Constitution itself, said senior advocate Dinesh Tripathi, one of the petitioners.

As per the Constitution, if the majority government is dissolved, there is a provision to form an alternative government by two or more political parties and a minority government could also be formed before going to the people for fresh mandate, he pointed out.

Prime Minister Oli cannot block the process of forming an alternative government by suddenly dissolving the House of Representatives, he said.

Although the petitioners demanded an interim order against Oli’s decision, the apex court refused to issue any such order.

Meanwhile, executive chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda'-led faction of the ruling party on Wednesday elected him as the new parliamentary leader, replacing Prime Minister Oli.

The 66-year-old leader's nomination was proposed by senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who was on Tuesday named as one of the two chairmen of the party, at a parliamentary party meeting of the Prachanda-led faction at the Parliament Building in New Baneshwar.

Oli, 68, was removed from the post of party's chairman on Tuesday by a central committee meeting of the Prachanda-led faction, which also decided to take disciplinary action against him for dissolving the House of Representatives 'unconstitutionally'.

Prachanda thanked lawmakers for electing him as the parliamentary leader and said that he has been handed over a huge responsibility during this challenging time.

He said that his first priority would be to restore the dissolved House of Representatives and form a new government.

'I will unify all the democratic forces and political parties to keep the hard-won political system and parliament lively and functioning,' he said.

Both factions of the party have intensified efforts to retain official party recognition along with the election symbol. The two factions are now busy making strategies to wrest control of the party.

Leaders of the Prachanda-led faction have told the Election Commission that they have a two-thirds majority in the party and therefore they must be granted official recognition by the election body, My Republica reported.

'We are here with the proof that we are the only legitimate Nepal Communist Party,' Leela Mani Pokharel, a standing committee member of the party, was quoted as saying by the paper.

Pokharel said that their faction has a majority with official signatures of 315 central committee members of the party.

Out of 446 central committee members, 313 were present at the meeting organized by Prachanda-led faction on Tuesday.

Prachanda-led faction also enjoys a majority in the nine-member Secretariat, the highest decision-making body of the party.

Oli-led faction on Tuesday submitted an application to the Election Commission claiming that his party should get official recognition. Oli had added 556 new Central Committee members while submitting the application to the Election Commission.

To get official recognition from the EC, the faction should have majority members, full details and their signatures along with copies of citizenships.

Nepal on Sunday plunged into a political crisis after President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives and announced dates for mid-term elections at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, sparking protests from a section of the ruling party and various opposition parties, including Nepali Congress.

The move came after the intra-party feud reached a climax in the ruling party which has been witnessing months long power tussle between two factions, one led by Oli and another led by Prachanda.

The ruling party has now been virtually divided more than two years after it was formed following the merger of CPN-UML led by Oli and CPN-Maoist Centre led by Prachanda in May 2018.

On Wednesday, the Janata Samajwadi Party cadres staged protests against Oli's decision in Kathmandu, Janakpur and other major parts of the country.

Main opposition Nepali Congress has also decided to launch a nationwide protest against Oli’s move.

Oli has defended his move to abruptly dissolve Parliament, saying he was forced to seek a fresh mandate through elections as the rift within the ruling party severely affected his government's functioning.

Meanwhile, the Parliament Secretariat in a statement said that a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Oli was registered on Sunday at 3:30 pm.

On Sunday, the President had endorsed the Cabinet's recommendation to dissolve the House around 3pm. Some reports have claimed that the motion was registered at 10:30 am. PTI SBP CPS ZH ZH