Opposition alliance files petition at Supreme Court demanding House reinstatement146 lawmakers, including 23 from the Madhav Nepal faction of the UML, have signed the petition, also demanding that Congress President Deuba be appointed prime minister.
The opposition alliance on Monday moved the Supreme Court, demanding that the Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba be declared new prime minister and reinstating the House of Representatives.
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 KP Sharma Oli and President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s House dissolution move late on Friday night.
Before dissolving the House, President Bhandari earlier on Friday night had disqualified Deuba’s claim that he be appointed prime minister. Deuba had presented signatures of 149 lawmakers to prove that he commanded the majority to lead a new government. However, Oli too made a claim that he be appointed prime minister, even though he still was the prime minister, saying he had the backing of 153 lawmakers. He did not present the signatures of those lawmakers.
After the President disqualified both claims, Oli, through a midnight Cabinet meeting, recommended House dissolution. The President duly obliged.
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.”
On Friday afternoon, 26 lawmakers of the Madhav Nepal faction of the UML had thrown weight behind Deuba. Of them, Gokarna Bista, Pabitra Niroula and Ganesh Pahadi backed out on Monday, and they have not signed the petition, according to Jeevan Ram Shrestha, a UML lawmaker close to Madhav Nepal.
After the President’s refusal to allow Deuba to form a new government as per Article 76 (5) and dissolution of the House, the opposition alliance on Saturday in a strongly-worded statement said that it would counter Oli’s dissolution move both legally and politically because the decision is unconstitutional, undemocratic and regressive.
Constitutional experts too have criticised Oli and Bhandari for their complicity in trampling upon the constitution.
Bhandari on May 13 had appointed Oli prime minister, even though he failed a confidence motion in the House on May 10, under Article 76 (3) of the constitution as the leader of the party with the highest number of members in the House.
Though there was criticism from some quarters, many hoped that Oli would focus on the fight against the pandemic that is ravaging the country.
But a week after his appointment, Oli on May 20 in a sudden move recommended that the President invoke Article 76 (5) to choose a new prime minister. Experts described the move as unconstitutional, saying asking the President to invoke Article 76 (5) was beyond the brief of a prime minister.
It’s the President who initiates Article 76 (5) when a prime minister appointed under Article 76 (3) fails the trust vote. Oli, however, neither sought the trust vote nor resigned, thereby creating a situation in which a prime minister was asking the President to appoint a prime minister.
The President then asked lawmakers to stake claim to the government under Article 76 (5) by Friday 5pm.
In a bizarre turn of events, Oli, who had recommended invocation of Article 76 (5) saying there was no political ground for him to win the trust vote, on Friday night himself applied before the President, demanding that he be appointed prime minister.