Lawyers representing Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and President Bidhya Devi Bhandari continued to argue before the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court that the president's decision to dissolve the House of Representatives on May 22 was right as there was no credible ground for her to believe that any of the two claimants could win the vote of confidence.

On May 22, the president rejected the claims of Prime Minister Oli and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, who had sought to be appointed prime minister under Article 76 (5) of the constitution.

Senior Advocate Surendra Bhandari said the president's decision to dissolve the HoR was valid as Article 76 (5) gave the president the discretion to judge who could obtain the vote of confidence. "In multi-party system, lawmakers cannot cross the floor and if they violate party whips, their votes or support cannot be deemed valid," he said. He said Article 76 (5) gave the president the discretion to judge whether or not the claimant could retain the majority support till the full term of the Lower House.

Joint Attorney Sanjeeb Raj Regmi said petitioners' argument that Oli, who had not obtained the vote of confidence under Article 76 (4), could not request the president to initiate the process of appointing a new PM under Article 76 (5) was wrong as Deuba, the second claimant, had already joined the process. The spirit of Article 76 (5) is to give the president the discretion to prevent undeserving candidate(s) from becoming the prime minister and such a decision cannot be reviewed unless it is mala fide and arbitrary, he argued.

Another Joint Attorney Lokaraj Parajuli said since the president had the duty of protecting the multi-party system, her decision not to let lawmakers act independently to support another party's lawmakers' bid for prime ministership was valid.

Twenty-six lawmakers from the CPN-UML belonging to the Madhav Kumar Nepal-Jhalanath Khanal faction and 12 lawmakers from the Upandra Yadav-Baburam Bhattarai faction of the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal had supported Deuba's bid for prime ministership.

A version of this article appears in the print on July 1 2021, of The Himalayan Times.