Nepal’s apex court orders appointment of Deuba as prime minister; reinstates dissolved lower house

In a landmark verdict, Nepal’s Supreme Court on Monday directed President Bidya Devi Bhandari to appoint Nepali Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba as prime minister by Tuesday and reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives for a second time in five months.

A five-member Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana issued the verdict stating that President Bhandari’s decision to dissolve the lower house upon a recommendation of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli was an unconstitutional act, delivering a major blow to the veteran Communist leader who was preparing for snap polls.

The Bench issued a mandamus to appoint Deuba as the Prime Minister by Tuesday. Mr. Deuba, 74, has served as the prime minister on four occasions.

The court also ordered summoning new session of House of Representatives at 5 PM on July 18.

Chief Justice Rana also said that the bench has concluded that party whip does not apply when lawmakers take part in the voting to elect new Prime Minister as per Article 76(5) of the Constitution.

The bench comprising four other senior most justices — Dipak Kumar Karki, Mira Khadka, Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Dr Ananda Mohan Bhattarai — had concluded hearings in the case last week.

President Bhandari had dissolved the 275-member lower house for the second time in five months on May 22 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.

Last week, the Election Commission had announced the schedule for mid-term elections despite the uncertainty over polls.

As many as 30 petitions, including one by the opposition alliance led by the Nepali Congress, were filed against the dissolution of the House by the President.

A petition was filed by the Opposition parties’ alliance with the signature of 146 lawmakers demanding reinstatement of the lower house of Parliament and appointment of Deuba as the prime minister.

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).

On February 23, the apex court reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives, in a setback to embattled Prime Minister Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

Oli, who is currently heading a minority government after losing a trust vote in the House, has repeatedly defended his move to dissolve the House of Representatives, saying some leaders of his party were attempting to form a “parallel government”.

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