The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday ruled that the recent appointment of ministers by caretaker Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli was unconstitutional and ordered the government not to let those ministers discharge their duties.
During a hearing of six different petitions filed against Oli’s move of expanding his Council of Ministers on June 4 and June 10 after his May 21 House dissolution, a divisional bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and justice Prakash Kumar Dhungana issued an interim order and ruled that the government should not allow the newly inducted ministers to carry their duties.
With this decision, as many as 20 ministers have lost their posts.
Oli had inducted 20 ministers, including 11 from the Mahantha Thakur-Rajendra Mahato faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal and nine from his own party, into his Cabinet after he dissolved the House of Representatives.
The SC bench cited Article 77(3) of the constitution and said that the same Cabinet led by the Prime Minister should continue to function after House dissolution that and the PM could not expand or reshuffle the Cabinet like other regular prime ministers.
The bench also observed that no clause of the constitution gave the caretaker PM the power to reshuffle the Cabinet.
This is the sixth time that SC has annulled the government’s decision for being unconstitutional, dealing Oli a strong blow.
On June 20, SC stayed the Council of Ministers’ decision to allow the construction of up to 250 MW hydropower projects within national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. The then Forest and Environment Minister Prem Ale had made the decision through the Council of Ministers to suit a company of Yeti Group.
On June 19, SC issued an interim order instructing the government not to allow export of river-based products, such as mineral stones sand and gravel. The government had announced in the budget statement that it will encourage the export of river-based products to reduce trade deficit.
June 18, SC ordered the government not to implement the amendment made in the Directive Related to Appointment of Ambassadors. The government had issued the directive in 2075 BS. Article 3 of the directive — which said that a bachelor’s degree is mandatory to become an ambassador– was later amended to say that a person who has already served as a minister is not required to have a bachelor’s degree for ambassadorial post.
On June 10, SC ordered the government to maintain the status quo and not implement the Citizenship ordinance issued in the absence of the House of Representatives. The apex court had said that issuing such an ordinance in the absence of the parliament and for the purpose of governing or achieving certain political objectives could interfere with the legislature’s rights and effectiveness.
On the same day, SC issued an interim order not to remove four UML lawmakers from Karnali, stating that the expulsion was implemented by the General Convention Organizing Committee although only the Central Committee had such jurisdiction.
Nonetheless, multiple strikes by the nation’s highest court against the government is unlikely to deter Oli from making controversial decisions that suit his minions.
Nepal keeps plunging into fresh political turmoil ever since Oli set out on a political spree – at the cost of citizens’ lives amid a raging pandemic and dearth of vaccines — in a bid to protect his Prime Ministerial chair.
Dr Basudev Pandey, an epidemiologist, said, “The political crises have diverted attention and energy of all politicians elsewhere while our focus should have been on the pandemic.”