ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court today dealt a double blow to the government — stayed the latter’s bid to seek extension of the Constituent Assembly term and summoned the prime minister and deputy prime minister to defend contempt charge against them for defying the court ruling.
A single bench of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi today issued an interim order saying the Cabinet decision on May 22 to extend the CA term by another three months ‘seems unconstitutional’ and ‘that’s why a stay order has been issued in the name of the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers and CA chairman not to proceed with the constitution amendment bill’.
“The bench has found that the defendant authorities did not abide by the court verdict (issued on November 25) and moved ahead with registering the 13th amendment bill in Parliament,” Regmi pronounced in his judgment.
In a strongly-worded order, the apex court said the (government) decision to seek yet another extension despite an earlier verdict — that categorically said the existing term of the CA would be the last one — has come in such a way that it seems ‘as if no order had been issued in relation to the term of constitution-drafting body’. The bench observed that going for yet another extension, instead of resorting to one of three options suggested by the apex court, is tantamount to disrespecting the court. “The Supreme Court did not expect such disrespect to a court ruling from the government and Parliament,” observed the apex court bench.
In its November 25 verdict, the SC had suggested three options — referendum, fresh elections to elect a new body to draw up a new constitution or any other suitable alternative — in the event of failure to promulgate the constitution by May 27.
Stating that the apex court has already ruled that frequent extension of CA term was against Article 64, and non-compliance of the apex court order was against Article 116 of the Interim Constitution, CJ Regmi directed the government and Parliament/CA to deliver the constitution by May 27.
The SC order today came in response to petitions filed by advocates Santosh Rana, Balkrishna Neupane and others.
In relation to a contempt case filed by advocate Kamal Prasad Itani, another single bench of Justice Kalyan Shrestha summoned Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and DPM and Minister for Law and Justice Krishna Prasad Sitaula to be present in court in person within seven days to record their statement and defend the contempt charge. The bench directed them to furnish clarification why action should not be initiated against them for not abiding by the apex court ruling. The bench has categorically said they do not enjoy the right to appoint legal representatives.