Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Vice-chair Bamdev Gautam’s path to retain his post as a member of the Upper House and become a minister have opened after a five-member constitutional bench of the Supreme Court refused to issue an interim order in cases challenging his appointment as National Assembly (NA) member.

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 filed separately by Senior Advocate Dinesh Tripathi and Advocate Badri Raj Bhatta.

Gautam was nominated to NA by President Bidya Devi Bhandari on the recommendation of the KP Sharma Oli-led government on September 17. However, Supreme Court on September 23 ordered the government not to induct Gautam in the Cabinet or assign him any such post till further verdict after advocate Tripathi sought an interim order against Gautam, asking the apex 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.

Tripathi had argued that the constitutional provision stipulating that a person who had lost the House of Representative (HoR) election could not become a minister in the same tenure of the HoR also meant that such a person could not become NA member.

Gautam had lost first-past-the-post election in the last general election of 2017 to Sanjay Kumar Gautam of Nepali Congress.

Gautam is a key member in NCP’s nine-member Secretariat amid the changing party dynamics due to factional intra-party rift. Gautam keeps switching sides – sometimes tilting to KP Sharma Oli and other times to Pushpa Kamal Dahal, in his bid to fulfil his ambition to become a minister and eventually the prime minister.

Meanwhile, after the Court’s verdict, Gautam posted on his Facebook page thanking his well-wishers and expressed gratitude to legal professionals who fought the case on his behalf.