Plea to scrap two ordinances quashed

Kathmandu, April 21

The Supreme Court today refused to register a writ petition seeking nullification of two ordinances issued by the government yesterday to amend the Constitutional Council Act and Political Party Act.

Shailendra Harijan and Praveen Kumar Yadav had filed the public interest litigation at the SC for registration but court officials refused to register the petition, saying the full court of the apex court had decided to entertain only habeas corpus writ petition and petitions related to coronavirus pandemic during the lockdown period.

Harijan told THT that the SC should have attached a refusal order on the petition as that was standard rule, but the court refused to do so arguing that the refusal order could not be attached on the petition as the case was not listed among cases to be heard during the lockdown period.

Courts have suspended most proceedings during the lockdown.

The petitioners argued that Article 114 that provided for the promulgation of an ordinance stated that the executive could promulgate an ordinance if it was necessary for it to take immediate action when the Parliament was not sitting, but in this case the government did not have reasons to prove the rationale for the promulgation of the two ordinances. They said the government promulgated the two ordinances to mislead the public at a time when the country was battling against COVID-19 pandemic.

The petitioners also argued that the ordinance related to Political Party Act was against the main spirit of the constitution that had incorporated provisions to aid political stability and reform the parliamentary system.

They argued that the ordinance related to the Constitutional Council Act enabled the constitutional body to decide on the basis of majority which was against the spirit of the constitution as it established the executive’s control over the crucial body of the Constitutional Council responsible for making appointments to constitutional bodies.

The petitioners also argued that the ordinance could have detrimental effects on the basic features of the constitution — democracy, checks and balances and democratic decision-making process.

They also argued that if the prime minister, who is the chairperson of the  CC, had his way in appointment of people to constitutional bodies, s/he could appoint his/her favourites as chief justice, chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and commissioners of the Election Commission, eroding the credibility of these organs. They argued that the ordinances were brought to divide Nepali society. They urged the court to stay the implementation of the two ordinances.

Petitioners have named the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Office of the President, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Parliament Secretariat as defendants in the case.

SC officials could not be contacted for comments.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on April 22, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.