Mahara’s resignation after rape allegations runs into controversyNo such thing as conditional resignation, say legal experts.
Speaker of the House 0f Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara resigned on Tuesday following allegations of rape by a woman who works at the Parliament Secretariat.
Mahara’s resignation, however, has encountered controversy for what many are calling a “temporary resignation”. Mahara, in his resignation letter addressed to the deputy speaker, said that he is resigning to facilitate an impartial investigation into the rape allegations.
“I am resigning on moral grounds, effective from today, to facilitate an impartial investigation into allegations that have surfaced in the media raising questions over my character, until the investigation is over,” reads the resignation letter.
The inclusion of the phrase “until the investigation is over” suggests that Mahara sees a possibility of returning as Speaker if he found not guilty by the investigation, say critics.
Legal experts, however, say there is no way Mahara can be reinstated as House Speaker as tendering the resignation means he has already lost his post. They say neither the constitution nor any laws envision a “conditional resignation”.
“There is no way Mahara can be reinstated in the position,” Bipin Adhikari, former dean of the Kathmandu University School of Law, told the Post. “The president should accept the resignation and the deputy speaker will lead the House of Representatives until a new Speaker is elected.”
Since parliament is currently in recess, a process to elect new Speaker will start only after the winter session resumes.
As per constitutional provisions, Parliament needs to be informed of the Speaker’s resignation and the Deputy Speaker will conduct House proceedings until a new Speaker is elected.
Article 91(2) of the Constitution of Nepal says between the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, one should be a woman and representatives from different parties.
Mahara’s resignation follows an emergency secretariat meeting of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, which had decided to ask Mahara to step down as Speaker and Member of Parliament. Mahara, however, has not resigned as a member of the parliament.
After reports of Mahara’s sexual assault surfaced, he had initially denied all allegations, calling it an attempt to “assassinate his character.”
On Sunday, a woman who works at the Parliament Secretariat accused Mahara of raping her at her Tinkune apartment. According to HamraKura.com, which first broke the story, Mahara came drunk to her apartment and violently forced himself on her, leaving wounds on her body. It was only when he left that she called the police, who, according to the woman, came and took photos of the place, and spoke with her about the incident.
The police, however, said that no official complaint has been filed yet.