Lawyers argue for and against govt before upper house polls
Kathmandu, December 14
Lawyers and parties are divided on whether the National Assembly elections should be held before the formation of the new government or after.
CPN-UML leader Agni Kharel, who is also a senior advocate, told THT that his party was in favour of forming the government first. He said the new government would frame laws to govern the process of National Assembly elections.
Nepali Congress leader Bal Krishna Khand, however, cites Article 84 (8) of the constitution which states that the Parliament should ensure 33 per cent women representation and in order to determine the number of women representatives, National Assembly elections should be held before the formation of the new government.
Kharel said the Election Commission would obligate parties to elect more women candidates under the PR system so as to ensure 33 per cent representation of women in the Parliament and there was already a provision to ensure 37 per cent women representation in the upper house.
Senior Advocate Surendra Kumar Mahato and General Secretary of Nepal Bar Association Khamma Bahadur Khati said as per Article 84 (8) of the constitution if any party failed to ensure 33 per cent women representation in the Parliament in the first-past-the-post parliamentary elections and the National Assembly elections, then such a party would be required to elect its proportional representation members in such a way that could ensure 33 per cent women in the Parliament. He argued that the Election Commission could announce the final results of PR elections only after the National Assembly elections were held.
Khati said the current government needed to recommend three members to be nominated by the president to the upper house.
Senior Advocate Surya Dhungel, however, said the new government could be formed even before the National Assembly elections, but for that to happen, the incumbent government needed to bring an ordinance to govern the process of electing parliamentary leaders of the parties, as well as the process of swearing in lawmakers. “The president can call for the formation of a new government only after members of the Parliament take the oath of office and secrecy,” he added.
Constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya said the argument that the National Assembly elections needed to be held to determine whether or not the Parliament had 33 per cent women representatives was valid but that did not mean that lawmakers could not elect the new prime minister before the National Assembly election. “The HoR can elect the prime minister but the argument that a new government can be formed without holding a meeting of the HoR is wrong,” he added.
Advocate Dipendra Jha said since the current government had suffered a debacle in the polls, it would be better if the new government brought a new law to govern the upper house elections.
The Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government has sent a National Assembly Members Election Ordinance to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, proposing single transferable vote system that gives opposition parties a chance to get their members elected to the upper house. Kharel said the left alliance government would frame laws to hold elections for the upper house on the basis of FPTP model that would give it an advantage, as majority of elected representatives in local levels and provinces — the electorate for NA polls — were from the alliance.