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Nepal:Supreme Court Verdict- Dissolution Unconstitutional- Oli deflated

Paper No. 6759                  Dated 27-Feb-2021
By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
In a landmark judgement, the full Bench of the Supreme Court in declaring the House dissolution as unconstitutional, ordered that the Parliament should be convened within the next thirteen days.
 
The verdict declared that there was no Constitutional condition of the Prime Minister of a majority formed in accordance with Article 76 (1) of the Constitution dissolving the Parliament in accordance with Article 76(7).
 
The Court verdict came on 23rd evening.  Dahal and Madhav Nepal called for a meeting of the Parliamentary meeting the next evening by 4 P.M..  Oli had also convened a meeting of the Standing Committee the next morning.  
 
It is learnt that Oli is unfazed over the verdict and had decided to convene the Parliament within the stipulated time.  His close aides mentioned that Oli is in no mood to tender his resignation.
 
The Supreme Court scrapped all appointments made after December 20, 2020, the day the House was dissolved.  This would include all the appointments to the Constitutional bodies too.
 
Going over the verdict and all the arguments both in favour and against a dissolution offered in the Court, it appears that the framers of the Constitution did not imagine a situation where a leader of the Party having a majority in the Parliament would dissolve the House.  Article 76 (7) comes into play only when the Parliament cannot produce a Government.  This was not done.
 
Constitutional Experts in Nepal called the verdict bold and impartial.  Sher Bahadur Deuba the leader of opposition and head of Nepali Congress said that his party respects the Court verdict but stopped short of indicating support to any of the two factions of the Ruling Party.  The problem is that the Ruling Party- the Nepal Communist Party has not formally split.
 
Dahal, leader of one of the factions of the NCP- the Ruling Party said that the verdict is historic and bold.  Madhav Nepal the other leader called it as the triumph of the people.  Mahant Thakur one of the leaders of the Terain outfit, Samajwadi Party claimed that verdict showed that the sovereignty rests with the people.
 
The problem is that the verdict does not resolve the political problem and would invite more instability.  At present, none of the factions have a clear majority and one or two will have to get together to stitch a majority.
 
Right now, it is assessed that out of a total of 275 members of the House, the Oli faction has the loyalty of 84 members while the Dahal-Nepal faction has 90 members on their side.  The Nepali Congress has 63 members and the Samajwadi Party has 32 members.  The configuration is such that one of the two factions of the Nepal Communist Party has to seek the help of the Nepali Congress and both the factions have already approached them.
 
Within Nepali Congress itself there is a difference of opinion as many feel that in any election held now the Nepali Congress would fare better, as the NCP has split.  They would also like to wait for the NCP to formally split.  
 
Within the Nepali Congress the Paudel faction does not like Dahal at all and would not like to extend any help to him or his faction.  Another major factor is that any combination of the Parties even when they assume power will not be able to clear up the mess created by Oli and would lose in any subsequent election.
 
There is another question that is being asked.  Will Oli take the extreme step of declaring an emergency and continue in power?  He needs the help of the military.  Two points are mentioned here.  For the first time, people saw the Armoured vehicles of the Army moving about in Kathmandu City.  Second, was the meeting of the Army Chief with the Chief Justice a day before the verdict.  It is said that the Amy Chief wanted to discuss about the acquisition of the land for the Army?  Was it that important and that too on a day prior to the delivery of the verdict?  Hard to say, but it has left people puzzled and nervous as to what would happen?  The question in their minds is - Will Myanmar be repeated?
 
All said, the Court verdict cancelling the dissolution has created more problems than it had set to solve in a crisis created by the political leaders themselves.
 
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