KATHMANDU, NOVEMBER 11
A five-member constitutional bench of the Supreme Court today refused to issue an interim order in cases filed separately by Senior Advocate Dinesh Tripathi and Advocate Badri Raj Bhatta challenging Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Vice-chair Bamdev Gautam’s appointment to the National Assembly.
Four justices — Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana, Deepak Kumar Karki, Hari Krishna Karki and Bishowambhar Prasad Shrestha — decided not to issue an interim order in the case, while Justice Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada gave a dissenting opinion. According to a source in the SC, Khatiwada was of the view that Gautam, who had lost from Bardiya in the last parliamentary election, could not be allowed to work as an NA member and an interim order should be issued against his appointment to the NA.
Non-issuance of the interim order means that Gautam can now become a minister in the KP Sharma Oli-led Cabinet.
On September 23, the apex court had ordered the government not to induct Gautam in the Cabinet or assign him any such post till further order.
Gautam was nominated to the National Assembly by the president on the government’s recommendation on September 17.
Senior Advocate Tripathi had sought an interim order against Gautam, urging the court to bar him from acting as NA member and becoming a minister.
The single bench of Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai had referred the case to the constitutional bench, stating that there were constitutional questions to be settled in the case.
The bench observed that since such a case was filed at the apex court for the first time, a decision should be taken on the basis of constitutionalism, accountability to the sovereign people, democratic methods, constitutional policies, and the principle of constitutional morality.
Tripathi argued that the constitutional provision stipulating that a person who had lost the HoR election could not become a minister in the same tenure of the HoR also meant that such a person could not become a member of the NA either.
Even after losing the first-pastthe-post election in the last general election to Sanjay Kumar Gautam of Nepali Congress, Gautam kept trying to become a member of the Parliament — first a member of the House of Representatives and then a member of the NA. Gautam convinced NCP lawmaker Ramvir Manandhar to vacate Kathmandu’s Constituency No 7 seat which Manandhar had won with a huge margin. Gautam thought he would contest from there and win, but NCP leaders close to KP Sharma Oli opposed his move.
Later, the party decided to send him to the NA. But Gautam was reluctant to become a member of the Upper House and demanded that the constitution be amended to allow NA members to be eligible for the post of the prime minister. He was condemned by party leaders and civil society members for advocating amendment to the constitution for his personal interest. It was only after that Gautam decided to become an NA member without advocating amendment to the constitution.
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A version of this article appears in print on November 12, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.