Lawyers representing members of the dissolved House of Representatives, including Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, who have challenged the HoR dissolution in the Supreme Court completed their oral submission today arguing that President Bidhya Devi Bhandari acted beyond the scope of her jurisdiction when she rejected the petition of both Deuba and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who wanted to be appointed PM under Article 76 (5) of the constitution.

Appearing before the five-member constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholera Shumsher JB Rana, Senior Advocate Satish Krishna Kharel said the president's argument that HoR members' support to Deuba was not valid as some members of the HoR, who were from parties other than Nepali Congress risked losing their HoR seats, was wrong.

He said nowhere in the world was there any example where the vote of a lawmaker was invalid just because he/she voted in favour of a leader of another party.

"A lawmaker may face consequences for crossing the floor, but that does not make his vote invalid. That process had not started when they supported Deuba,"

Kharel argued. He said the court needed to issue order telling the president to appoint Deuba the prime minister, or else PM Oli and President Bhandari, who were favouring each other, would again violate the constitution.

Another Senior Advocate Baburam Kunwar said as the process of forming a new government had already begun as per Article 76 (5) of the constitution, Article 76 (4) could not be invoked. Invoking Article 76 (4) would require PM Oli to seek vote of confidence. Kunwar said PM Oli, who led a minority government before the HoR dissolution, had the right to waive his obligation to seek vote of confidence and as he did so, the court should not now ask him to seek vote of confidence. He said the PM, who had the chance to seek vote of confidence before submitting his claim for prime ministership under Article 76 (5) did not do so, that is why the issue of vote of confidence was not valid anymore.

Kunwar said all members of HoR were free to become PM or support any candidate's bid for prime ministership.

Advocate Bhimarjun Acharya said the HoR comprised members who were peoples' representatives, not delegates. They were therefore free to support anybody's bid for prime ministership keeping in mind their electorates' wish and interests. He said the president had no right to judge that Deuba would not win vote of confidence. "If the president had any doubt, she should have sent the issue to the HoR," he argued.

Acharya said Oli had become the PM under all subclasses of Article 76 and there was never such an example in any country around the world.

Government lawyers and lawyers appointed by the defendants will start pleading from tomorrow as petitioners' lawyers have completed their oral submissions today. The court has given 15 hours to plaints and defendants each.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 28 2021, of The Himalayan Times.