Governors of all seven provinces sacked

Kathmandu, November 3

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari has, on the recommendation of the government, sacked the governors of all seven provinces. The main opposition Nepali Congress has condemned the move.

The Office of the President stated in its press release that President Bhandari relieved the governors of their posts in accordance with Article 165 (1) (b) of the constitution. A Cabinet meeting held earlier today had recommended that the president remove the governors from their offices.

Article 165 (1) lists situations when the post of governor falls vacant. 165 (1) (b) stipulates that the post of governor shall become vacant if his or her term of office expires and he or she is removed from office by the president prior to expiration of the term. Normally, governors can serve for five years.

Article 163 (3) of the constitution stipulates: The term of office of governor shall be five years except when the president removes him or her from office prior to expiration of his or her term of office.

The governors who lost their jobs today include Govinda Bahadur Tumbahang of Province 1, Ratneshwor Lal Kayastha of Province 2, Anuradha Koirala of Province 3, Baburam Kunwar of Gandaki Province, Uma Kant Jha of Province 5, Durga Keshar Khanal of Karnali Province and Mohan Raj Malla of Sudurpaschim Province. Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government had recommended their names on January 17.

Kunwar told THT that he was a lawyer and personally felt relieved as he could now practice law, but he termed the government’s decision ‘height of anarchy’. “This decision is an attack on the constitutional provisions and rule of law and it is also against federalism,” he said.

He said the government’s decision to sack him was mala fide action because he had not done anything wrong. “A governor’s post cannot remain vacant even for a minute. The government arbitrarily removed us without giving us any chance to be heard,” he said.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Radhe Shyam Adhikari, who is also a senior advocate, told THT that the government’s decision was constitutionally untenable. “Governors have five years’ fixed term, but if the government decides to remove them before their term ends, then the government must level charge against them and if the government accuses them of wrongdoing, then it must give them a chance to be heard,” Adhikari said.

He said the case could be tested by the Supreme Court if the governors who were removed from office today moved the court challenging the decision.

These governors were appointed by the Deuba-led government, but successive governments cannot make whimsical decisions to overturn the decisions of the previous government.

Bimalendra Nidhi, vice-president of Nepali Congress, the main opposition party, said the government’s decision sacking all the governors violated not only the constitutional provisions but also the election code of conduct.

“As per the spirit of the constitution, the government must give these governors a chance to be heard before deciding to remove them from office,” Nidhi said.

He said the government’s decision was prejudiced and immature. “The government’s move is also aimed at weakening federalism,” he added.

Senior Advocate Surendra Kumar Mahto, however, said the government had the power to remove governors, but it could have justified its move had it removed them immediately after coming to power.

“The former CPN-UML and the CPN-MC had told the Deuba-led government to appoint new governors only with their consent. When Deuba was preparing to appoint these governors, some UML leaders had even threatened to remove the new governors, but they did not remove them immediately after coming to power,” Mahto added.