Nepal's Opposition files writ petition seeking reinstatement of House & appointment of Deuba as PM

·3-min read

Kathmandu, May 24 (PTI) Nepal's Opposition alliance on Monday filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court demanding restoration of the House of Representatives and appointment of veteran Nepali Congress leader Sher Bahadur Deuba as the Prime Minister.

Leaders of the alliance moved the apex court two days after President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the 275-member House on the recommendations of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, who headed a minority government after losing a trust vote in the House on May 10.

In the writ, the petitioners have demanded that Nepali Congress President Deuba should be lawfully appointed the Prime Minister of Nepal in accordance with Article 76 (5).

Their other demands include the scrapping of the announcement of elections in November, to stop election-related programmes amid the pandemic, and to issue an order to summon House meeting to facilitate presentation of the budget within the time provisioned by the Constitution, it said.

The petitioners noted that the dissolution was “unconstitutional” as there was legal room for the appointment of a new government as per Article 76 (5) of the Constitution of Nepal.

As many as 146 members of the dissolved House of Representatives – 61 from the Nepali Congress, 49 from the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), 23 from the Madhav Nepal faction of the CPN-UML, 12 from the Upendra Yadav-Baburam Bhattarai of the Janata Samajbadi Party and one from Rastriya Janamorcha Nepal – have signed the petition, challenging Prime Minister Oli and President Bhandari’s House dissolution move late on Friday night, The Kathmandu Post reported.

A court official confirmed that as many as 146 lawmakers have filed the petition.

“We are verifying the documents,” said Devendra Dhakal, an information officer at the Supreme Court. “The petition has names of 146 lawmakers.” Ahead of filing the petition, former lawmakers from the Opposition parties had assembled in Singha Durbar on Sunday and on Monday to submit their signatures endorsing 74-year-old Deuba's claim to the post of prime minister.

Deuba, who has been Nepal Prime Minister four times previously, had staked his claim to the government on Friday claiming that he has the support of 149 lawmakers.

But President Bhandari dissolved the 275-member House of Representatives on Saturday 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.

She rejected the bids of both Prime Minister Oli and the Opposition alliance's claims to form a government. Oli and Opposition leader Deuba had staked separate claims to the premiership.

The announcement came after Prime Minister Oli in his last deal-sealing move on Friday midnight recommended the Office of the President to dissolve the House and announce dates for early elections.

Constitutional experts too have criticised Oli and Bhandari for their complicity in trampling upon the Constitution.

Speaker of the House of Representatives Agni Prasad Sapkota also said President Bhandari's decision to dissolve the House is against the spirit of the Constitution of Nepal.

'The unprecedented move is against the political struggle and verdict of the apex court which had annulled Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's earlier move of dismantling the parliament on December 20, 2020,' Sapkota said in a statement last week.

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).

Oli's move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the NCP led by his rival 'Prachanda'. In February, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House, in a setback to Oli who was preparing for snap polls. PTI MRJ AKJ AKJ