Arguments put forth against House dissolution

Kathmandu, January 18

A precedent set by Sri Lankan Supreme Court in a House dissolution case was cited today in the Supreme Court wherein the court had said that seeking a fresh mandate could be justified only when it is done as per the constitution.

Advocate Dinmani Pokharel cited the Lankan precedent while pleading on behalf of the petitioners who have challenged the dissolution of the House of Representatives before the constitutional bench. He argued that even the United Kingdom, which was known as the mother of parliamentary democracy, also departed from its convention of giving the PM the prerogative to dissolve the HoR. He said the UK brought Fixed-Term Parliaments Act in 2011 to shift the PM’s power of dissolving the House to the Parliament.

“In a country like ours where there is a written constitution, no traditions can be deemed valid and everybody is bound to exercise his/her power guaranteed by the constitution. Our constitution does not give the PM unfettered right to dissolve the House of Representatives,” Pokharel argued. He said framers of the constitution were concerned about political stability and that was the main reason for not giving the PM the power to dissolve the House.

“Similarly, the constitution also gave a sense of stability to the PM, as it barred lawmakers from moving no-trust motion in the first two years of the PM’s tenure and a gap of one year between the two no-trust motions against the PM. “If the court deems the PM’s decision to dissolve the HoR constitutional, leaving the provisions that prevent lawmakers from moving no-trust motion against the PM intact, then one pillar of stability will be uprooted. In that case, the constitution will be rendered defunct,” he said.

He also argued that such court verdicts will effectively rewrite the constitution. The five-member constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana is continuously hearing the case since yesterday. The government will have the chance to rebut petitioners’ arguments later.