SC upholds civil servants’ civic body postings

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, May 20:

The Supreme Court today upheld the previous governments’ decisions to make the local bodies functional by appointing civil servants and political cadres.

Quashing a writ petition filed by advocates Chandra Kanta Gyawali and Chomraj Dahal, the apex court said there is no ground to test the legitimacy of these ordinances, which were issued to make the local bodies functional.

“It is not the time to test the constitutionality of these ordinances as they are already six months old,” Supreme Court seniormost justice Hari Prasad Sharma, issuing the verdict, said. The verdict was made by a three-member bench comprising justices Hari Prasad Sharma, Sushila Singh Silu and Anup Raj Sharma. The Bench neither revoked the amended Section 239 of the Local Self-Governance Act 1996 nor quashed the Civil Servants Act, which paved the way for the appointment of former representatives and political cadres as officials of local bodies.

“As the parliament was defunct, the government had to issue ordinances to make the local bodies functional,” the verdict stated.

Following the completion of five-year terms of representatives of local bodies two years back, the then Deuba government had amended Section 239 of the 1996 Act, which paved the way for the appointment of civil servants in local bodies. The Deuba government had given the authority of the chairperson of the District Development Committee to local development officer, mayor’s authority to the executive officer of the municipality and the chairperson’s authority to the secretary of the village development committee. Later, the Surya Bahadur Thapa government had nominated some former representatives and cadres of the ruling Rastriya Prajatantra Party as the officials of these bodies.

Challenging the amendment of the Act and practice of picking cadres as the officials of local bodies, advocates Gyawali and Dahal had filed the writ petitions at the apex court twice.

“The nomination of civil servants as officials of local bodies is undemocratic and against the spirit of the Constitution,” their petition had stated. The petitioners argued that the amendment of the 1996 Act was unconstitutional since it allowed unelected people to run the local bodies.