Nepal’s Supreme Court issues interim order to govt against implementing citizenship ordinance

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Kathmandu, Jun 10 (PTI) In a setback to the embattled Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's government, the Supreme Court on Thursday issued an interim order asking it not to implement the recently issued ordinance on citizenship.

A five-member Constitutional Bench of the apex court issued the order after conducting a preliminary hearing on the writ petitions filed against the decision of the minority government to introduce the Citizenship Amendment Ordinance.

Prime Minister Oli-led government issued the ordinance bypassing parliamentary discussions in a bid to woo the Madhes-based Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal and to make a power-sharing deal with the party.

The constitutional bench observed that an immediate implementation seems irrelevant and such practices infringe parliamentary rights by standing against separation of powers, The Himalayan Times reported.

The Bench led by Chief Justice Cholednra Shumsher-led passed the order, asking the government to make necessary arrangements to distribute citizenship certificates based on the Citizenship Act endorsed duly by Parliament, according to court officials.

Altogether, six writ petitions were filed in the Supreme Court challenging the ordinance issued by President Bidya Devi Bhandari on May 23 at the recommendation of the Council of the Ministers.

The petitioners demanded the Supreme Court dismiss the ordinance as it contradicted the Constitution of Nepal.

The government, however, defended the ordinance as a legal base to commensurate the provisions mentioned in the Constitution.

Nepal’s beleaguered Prime Minister Oli recently joined hands with the key Madhesi Janata Samajwadi Party after effecting a major Cabinet reshuffle.

The 69-year-old Oli expanded his Cabinet with the inclusion of eight ministers and two ministers of state from the Madhes-based Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP). Oli appointed three deputy prime ministers, including two from the Madhesi community, during the reshuffle.

The Mahantha Thakur-led faction of the JSP decided to join the Oli-led minority government after the prime minister agreed to meet some of their key demands, including the citizenship issue that has been on hold in the parliamentary State Affairs Committee for the last three years and the withdrawal of cases filed against 120 leaders and cadres of the JSP.

Oli’s joining of hands with the JSP is regarded by many experts here as hitting two targets with one arrow, as it involves consolidating his grip on power and strengthening relations with India.

Madhesi parties in Nepal claim to be representing the cause of Madhesis, who are inhabitants of the Terai region. The community shares strong cultural and family bonds with India.

Nepal President Bhandari dissolved the 275-member House of Representatives on May 22 for the second time in five months and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19 on the advice of Prime Minister Oli, heading a minority government.

President Bhandari rejected the separate bids of both Prime Minister Oli and the Opposition alliance's claims to form a new government, saying the “claims were insufficient.” Oli's move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda'. PTI SBP MRJ AKJ MRJ