By Shirish B Pradhan ;
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 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. Deuba, 74, has served as the Prime Minister on four occasions; first from 1995 to 1997, then from 2001 to 2002, again from 2004 to 2005, and from 2017 to 2018. Currently, he is the Leader of the Opposition in the House. The court also ordered summoning a new session of the 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.