Province 2 takes federal government to court

Centre shouldn’t interfere in province matters


The Province 2 government today moved the Supreme Court to annul the federal government’s decision to claim jurisdiction on ground water resources development, calling it unconstitutional.

Province 2 Minister of Physical Infrastructure Jitendra Prasad Sonal filed a case against the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, seeking to annul notices issued by federal entities — Ground Water Resources Development Committee and Tarai Madhes Irrigation Special Programme — which state that the Province 2 government should hand over the building of Ground Water Irrigation Development Division Office, Birgunj, other such division offices in Province 2, and vehicles used by those offices to the federal government.

The petitioner argued that the federal government should not establish federal offices in provinces and local levels to run ground water resources development offices, since Schedule 6 of the constitution gave provinces the power to run programmes related to ground water resources.

The petition states that if buildings and vehicles used by division offices were handed over to the Ground Water Development Committee — a federal unit — and its branch offices, it could lead to a tug of war between several offices, adversely affecting the Province 2 government’s work.

Schedule 6 of the constitution stipulates that the power to manage national forests, water usage, and environment management within a province shall rest with the province, adds the petition.

“As per Schedule 7 of the constitution that provisions for concurrent powers, the federal government can look into only mega ground water resources programmes and inter-provincial projects related to ground water resources.”

Sonal has argued that the annual development programme launched by the federal Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation for the current fiscal had intended to run power drill shallow tubewell and deep tubewell programmes against the spirit of the constitution.

His petition states that provinces must have the autonomy to exercise their constitutional powers and there should be no interference from the federal government in provincial jurisdiction.

It adds that the federal government’s decision to run ground water resources programmes through parallel organisations will only increase economic burden on the country. The petitioner has also urged the court to stay the notices of Ground Water Resources Development Committee and Tarai Madhes Irrigation Special Programme till the final verdict in the case.

Chief Attorney of Province 2 Dipendra Jha said the secretary of the line ministry of the federal government had handed over offices in question to the provincial government. He said when the line minister decided to take the offices back, the Province 2 government had to move the apex court.

This is the sixth time that the Province 2 government has taken the federal government to court. Earlier, it had challenged the federal government over Sagarnath Forest Development Project, police adjustment, transfer of district forest officers, transfer of civil servants, and non-delegation of criminal jurisdiction to the Province 2 chief attorney’s office.