Supreme Court denies interim order against ordinance on Political Parties ActWay cleared for Madhav Nepal-led CPN (Unified Socialist) to join the Sher Bahadaur Deuba-led government.
The Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court has refused to issue an interim order on the writs demanding annulment of the ordinance to amend the Political Parties Act-2017, clearing the way for Madhav Nepal’s party to join the government.
“On the seven writ petitions, the Supreme Court has issued a show cause order but refused to issue an interim order,” said Baburam Dahal, spokesperson for the Supreme Court.
A day after proroguing the House of Representatives, the government had issued an ordinance to amend some provisions of the Political Parties Act on August 18. Eventually, two parties—the country’s largest party CPN-UML and the fourth largest Janata Samajbadi Party—were split.
Madhav Kumar Nepal formed the CPN (Unified Socialist) and Mahantha Thakur formed Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, utilising the new provisions of the ordinance, which lowered the threshold of splitting the party from 40 percent of both Central Committee and Parliamentary Party members to 20 percent of either the Central Committee or the Parliamentary Party members.
Advocates Arjun Kumar Aryal, Nikesh Kumar Lamsal, Prabesh KC, Shreekanta Baral, Dal Bahadur Dhami, Saroj Budhathoki and Rajiv Bastola had registered separate petitions demanding the ordinance be quashed.
The Constitutional Bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana that included justices Deepak Kumar Karki, Mira Khadka, Hari Krishna Karki and Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada took the decision on Friday.
With the court denying an interim order, the conflict within coalition partners is expected to end as CPN (Unified Socialist) leaders were pressing the prime minister not to withdraw the ordinance, fearing that the court could make it a case because the writs were sub judice.
“The writ petitions should have been quashed as they have no legal basis,” said Jagannath Khatiwada, spokesperson for the CPN (Unified Socialist). “We wonder why the court has been lingering [the case].”
According to the petitioners, the Constitutional Bench has ordered the defendants to come up with a written response.
Legal experts have said the way for the CPN (Unified Socialist) to join the government has now been cleared with the court refusing to issue an interim order to quash the ordinance.
There was fear among the leaders of the newly formed CPN (Unified Socialist) and Loktantrik Janata Party that if the court issued an interim order and quashed the ordinance as demanded by the petitioners, there could be some questions on whether the actions conducted as per the ordinance would become null and void or not. Legal experts claimed that the actions accomplished as per the ordinance would remain valid.
“You can see that even after the repeal of the ordinance related to the Constitutional Council Act, the appointments made based on that have not been quashed,” said Dinesh Tripathi, senior advocate and constitutional expert. “So, now there won’t be any legal hurdles for Madhav Nepal’s party to join the government.”
The writ petitions, according to legal experts, had no legal grounds to quash the ordinance because it was brought following the constitutional provisions and is currently at the House of Representatives. They had cited examples of the Supreme Court’s decisions on previous writs related to the ordinance on Citizenship Act and the one related to sand and pebbles mining in the Chure region.
The Supreme Court had quashed the ordinance on Citizenship Act saying it could have long-term implications.
However, a senior leader of the CPN (Unified Socialist) claimed there were other complexities for them in joining the government as Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has refused to allocate seven ministries to them.
“Besides possible legal complications, actually our entry to the government was also largely affected by the failure in negotiations regarding the ministries,” said the leader.
UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli’s petitions that the CPN (Unified Socialist) be dissolved are also pending in the Supreme Court. Oli claimed that the new party was formed because the House Speaker did not issue the notice of expulsion of the UML members and the Election Commission recognised the leaders who had not signed the petition filed to register the party.