Lawyers representing members of the dissolved House of Representatives who have challenged the dissolution of the HoR argued before the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court that the president had no right to reject Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba's claim to form a new government as he had submitted signatures of the majority members of the dissolved HoR.

Senior Advocate Shambhu Thapa, who is a former president of the Nepal Bar Association, said according to the constitution, the president was only a titular head without any discretionary power and had no right to reject Deuba's claim for prime ministership on the basis of her analysis. He said the PM's announcement that he was not in a position to form a new government was akin to resigning from the post of prime minister.

Karki said after KP Sharma Oli told President Bidhya Devi Bhandari that he would not be in a position to win the vote of confidence and was paving the way for the formation of a new government under Article 76 (5), he should not have staked claim to form the new government.

He said Deuba was the only valid claimant for the PM's post and the SC should issue a directive to make him the new PM.

Karki said Oli was bound by his oath to pave the way for the formation of a new government.

Senior Advocate Mahadev Yadav said that provisions contained in Article 76 (1), 76 (2) and 76 (3) existed in the Constitution of 1990 also, but the provisions contained in Article 76 (5) of the current constitution allowed any member of the HoR to become the PM with support of HoR members irrespective of their parties.

Advocate Khamma Bahadur Khati said the president misinterpreted Article 76 (5) when she said there was no credible ground to believe that Deuba would win the trust vote. Khati said Deuba had submitted signatures of 146 members of the dissolved House and that should have been deemed credible ground for appointing him as the new PM. Khati pointed out that Article 76 (5) did not recognise political parties' role in appointing the PM, yet Oli staked claim on the basis of parties' support.

Advocate Govinda Bandi said the president should rely on signatures of 146 members of the dissolved HoR to judge whether Deuba had a credible case of being appointed the PM.

"There were 271 members in the HoR and the member who wanted to become the new PM needed the support of 136 members.

Deuba submitted signatures of 146 members pledging him support, including former PMs. What else did he need to show to prove adequate support?" Bandi wondered.

He said the president's argument that lawmakers of the parties who had independently supported Deuba could risk losing their HoR seats was also wrong.

He said the president acted with mala fide intention when she hurriedly dissolved the HoR on the recommendation of the government without giving Deuba a chance to respond to her queries. "The president seems to have acted with one objective in mind that under all articles - 76 (1), 76 (2), 76 (3), 76 (4), and 76 (5), only Oli should be appointed the PM," he said.

A version of this article appears in the print on June 24 2021, of The Himalayan Times.