Kathmandu, Jun 23 (PTI) Nepal's Supreme Court on Wednesday started the continuous hearing on a slew of writ petitions against the May 22 dissolution of the House of Representatives by President Bidya Bhandari at the recommendation of caretaker Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli.
A five-member Constitutional Bench of the apex court led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana began the hearing process, starting with the writ jointly filed by 146 lawmakers backing Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba's claim to Prime Ministership.
According to the apex court's order, 15 hours have been allocated to the writ petitioners and respondents for pleading.
At the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, President Bhandari dissolved the lower house for the second time in five months on May 22 and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.
Prime Minister Oli is currently heading a minority government after losing a trust vote in the 275-member House.
The hearing comes a day after the Supreme Court quashed the appointment of 20 ministers by Oli, invalidating his two Cabinet expansions since the dissolution of the House of Representatives.
Some 30 writ petitions have been filed against the dissolution of the House of Representatives.
The petitioners have demanded the reinstatement of the House and the appointment of Deuba as the prime minister.
On June 9, the court had issued a show-cause notice to the defendants - Office of the President and Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers - seeking explanation on their decision to dissolve the House, within 15 days.
Both, the Office of the President and the Prime Minister, in their written replies to the court had justified their move to dissolve the House.
Asserting that the House of Representatives was dissolved as per the constitutional provisions, Bhandari told the Supreme Court that it cannot overturn her decision on the matter or subject it to a judicial review.
On his part, Oli told the court that it is not up to the judiciary to appoint a premier as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state.
The petitioners, however, say the President should have left it for the House to test if Deuba had a majority or not. Had he failed to prove a majority, he would have been unseated, thereby leading to the automatic dissolution of the House.
Meanwhile, Nepali Congress (NC) President Deuba has called a meeting of the Opposition alliance on Wednesday evening.
Deuba has invited leaders, including CPN-Maoist Center Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, UML senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, Janata Samajwadi Party Chairman Upendra Yadav, and a leader of the Rashtriya Janamorcha at his residence at Budhanilkantha.
The meeting will discuss the latest political developments, and the Supreme Court’s decision on Cabinet expansion, a Nepali Congress leader said.
Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
In February, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives, in a setback to embattled Prime Minister Oli who was preparing for snap polls.
Oli repeatedly defended his move to dissolve the House of Representatives, saying some leaders of his party were attempting to form a 'parallel government'. PTI SBP NSA AKJ NSA