• HOUSE DISSOLUTION
KATHMANDU, JANUARY 27
Lawyers pleading on behalf of petitioners who have challenged the dissolution of the House of Representatives continued to argue that the prime minister did not have the prerogative to dissolve the Lower House of the Parliament.
Senior Advocate Harihar Dahal who pleaded before the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court on behalf of the petitioners told the court that Nepal's parliamentary democracy was different from the Westminster model and even the UK, where dissolution of the HoR used to be considered as the PM's prerogative, had departed from this practice in 2011 when the European country enacted Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
Dahal said if the SC validated the dissolution of the HoR, it could lead to collapse of the constitution that was framed by the Constituent Assembly after a long struggle.
The 1990 constitution was largely based on the Westminster model and had given the PM the prerogative to dissolve the HoR, but the present constitution does not give the PM the same prerogative, he argued.
Senior Advocate Yubraj Sangroula said if the HoR dissolution was validated, the term of the HoR would effectively be reduced from five years to two years as every future prime minister would tend to dissolve the HoR after two years. The present constitution prevents HoR members from moving a no-trust motion against the prime minister in the first two years of the PM's tenure.
Sangroula also said that the present constitution had adopted socialism-oriented political system, and it was not the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy.
Senior Advocate Sher Bahadur KC argued that only the prime minister formed under Article 76 (5) could recommend dissolution of the HoR under Article 76 (7) and as PM Oli commanded majority in the Parliament, he did not have power to dissolve the House. KC said the spirit of the constitution was that the HoR could be dissolved only when it could not give the country a new government. He said the thematic committee reports in the first and second Constituent Assembly had stated that the PM should not have the prerogative to dissolve the HoR.
KC said PM Oli's government was formed under Article 76 (2), but since the press release issued by the President's Office stated that his government was formed under 76 (1) it was up to the bench to determine whether his government was formed under Article 76 (1) or 76 (2).
Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana today ruled that lawyers representing Dev Prasad Gurung and others would only have 15 minutes to make their arguments before the bench. CJ Rana said the bench needed to fix the time as there were lawyers of six other petitioners who would be pleading before the bench.
A version of this article appears in the print on January 28, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.