ANANTA RAJ LUITEL
KATHMANDU: Ignoring a Supreme Court order, political parties today decided to extend the Constituent Assembly term, ending the legitimacy of the constitution-drafting body.
“Today’s decision is against the Supreme Court verdict, and the move has ended CA’s constitutional legitimacy,” Badri Bahadur Karki, a former attorney general, told THT. Karki said the decision showed that the government and political parties simply disregard the rule of law and constitutionalism.
The government, ignoring apex court prescribed options, registered the constitution amendment bill at the Parliament Secretariat to seek extension of the CA term by three months.
In its verdict on November 25, the apex court had said CA would be automatically dissolved if it failed to promulgate the constitution by May 27. The SC had suggested three options for the aftermath of the CA dissolution — referendum, fresh elections to constitute a body to draw up a new constitution or any other suitable alternative. But the leaders cold-shouldered the apex court and decided to go for an extension.
Political urgency could be the reason, ‘but CA has lost its legitimacy on legal grounds’, said constitutional law expert Purnaman Shakya. The parties will be ‘tested once again whether they can prove the political legitimacy’ for extending the CA term, he added.
As far as the apex court is concerned, it will refrain from declaring whether the move is constitutional or not, for it does not have the executive right. Nor will it take initiative to bring parties and lawmakers to book (for defying its order), but nonetheless, these issues will be heavily debated among legal and public circles alike.
“The onus now lies on the parties to prove political legitimacy of today’s move,” said Shakya. “The Cabinet decision was based on political consensus, but against the November 25 verdict. So, parties must be able to promulgate the constitution by convincing the general public before the apex court initiates action against the move.”
Today’s development prompted lawyers’ community to lash out at the government and the parties. “Such a move undermines the court, law of the land and constitutionalism. We object to it,” said Yadu Nath Khanal, President of Democratic Lawyers’ Association.
Former president of Nepal Bar Association Shambhu Thapa termed today’s decision ‘no less dangerous’ than former king’s autarchy. “The move proves that our leaders are more autocratic than the deposed king Gyanendra. The decision squarely means our leaders do not care a whit about the essence of law of the land and court order. They wanted to prove they can do whatever they want, and they have.”