SC stays govt decision to spend billions

Kathmandu, January 14

The Supreme Court today stayed the government’s decision to spend up to Rs 10 billion under Constituency Infrastructure Programme and Constituency Development Programme.

A division bench of Justices Sarada Prasad Ghimire and Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada passed the order responding to a petition filed by newly elected CPN-UML lawmaker Jhapat Bahadur Rawal. He was elected from Kailali’s Constituency No 2.

According to Rawal’s lawyer Advocate Tikaram Bhattarai, the court passed an order telling the government not to execute the directive of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development issued on December 31 to district technical offices to implement all programmes under Constituency Infrastructure Programme and Constituency Development Programme sanctioned by October 14, the day the tenure of the Parliament ended.

The Election Commission had stopped implementation of the two programmes on October 29, stating that continuation of the programmes would violate the election code of conduct.

The petitioner argued that since people had elected new representatives they should have the authority to spend on development programmes in constituencies and not others.

“If the government’s decision is implemented, the newly elected representatives will be deprived of participation in the development programmes,” the petitioner argued.

The petitioner argued that the government’s decision to run the two programmes was illegal, as the interim constitution had created 240 electoral districts, while according to the    new constitution there were 165 electoral districts.

“Former lawmakers do not have the authority to monitor and evaluate these programmes. They cannot participate in these programmes.

“If this letter is executed at a time when (old) electoral districts have been dissolved, it will be a misuse of taxpayers’ money,” the petitioner argued.

The petitioner also argued that the government’s effort to carry out the two development programmes with the help of district technical offices was contrary to the concept of restructured state and development.

The petitioner has demanded repeal of the letter issued on December 31 by MoFALD.

He has also demanded that an order of prohibition be issued against the government to bar it from carrying out the two programmes till a new government is formed and the newly elected representatives take oath of office and secrecy.

MoFALD Secretary Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya said not even 10 per cent of the fund meant for the two programmes was spent this fiscal.

Thapaliya said his ministry had sought the opinion of the Ministry of Law which said it could carry out the two programmes that were approved by October 14, prompting his ministry to initiate the process of running those programmes.

Thapaliya said questions were raised in the court and in the annual report of auditor general about the programmes and since Nepal adopted federalism giving authority to local levels to carry out development programmes, the existing rules and regulations of the two programmers had to be reviewed.

A government source said such programmes should be carried out by local levels that are elected bodies and not by district technical offices, which are unelected bodies.