SC halts salaries of local level office bearers

Kathmandu, October 18

The Supreme Court today annulled six provincial laws that allowed office bearers of local levels to draw monthly salaries.

The apex court’s verdict was delivered by the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana. Other justices on the bench were Deepak Kumar Karki, Kedar Prasad Chalise, Meera Khadka and Hari Krishna Karki.

On August 20, Advocate Lokendra Bahadur Oli had filed a case against six of the seven provinces for enacting laws allowing local governments to provide pay and perks to office bearers and members of local levels. The court ruled that provinces had gone beyond their legal powers to enact laws that allowed salaries to local level office bearers, Oli told THT.

The SC ordered the government to stop payment of salaries to local level office bearers from today. “There are 29,565 local level office bearers who are receiving salaries. With today’s court decision, the government will be able to save millions of rupees every month,” Oli said.

The petitioners have named the governments of Province 2, Province 3, Gandaki Province, Province 5, Karnali Province and Sudurpaschim Province as defendants. The petitioner has also named the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law of those provinces as defendants.

The petitioner had argued that the provincial governments had no power to frame laws allowing office bearers and officials of the local governments to draw monthly salary/remuneration.

The petitioner did not include Province 1 among the defendants as its law allowed office bearers and members of local levels to draw only perks and not salary.

The petitioner argued that constitution allowed members of the federal Parliament, speaker, deputy speaker, members of provincial assemblies and speakers and deputy speakers of provincial assemblies to draw both pay and perks, but it did not give the right to office bearers of local levels to receive salary.

The petitioner pointed out that provincial governments wrongly interpreted the provisions of Article 227 of the constitution and made laws to provide salary to office bearers of local governments.

Mayor of Birgunj Metropolitan City Vijay Kumar Sarawagi told THT that if there was any contradiction in the constitution or law, the Parliament should correct it. “If the prime minister, ministers, federal lawmakers, provincial ministers and provincial assembly members are allowed to draw monthly salaries, why should local level office bearers be barred from doing the same? Why is this discrimination against local level representatives?” he wondered.

Sarawagi said if the service of the local representatives had to be treated as social service then the same criteria should apply to federal and provincial representatives as well.

“The government must understand that full-time local politicians, such as I am, should take care of their families and if they are not allowed to draw monthly salaries, then they cannot do their work,” he added.

Sarawagi said if local office bearers were not allowed to draw monthly salaries, then that could increase corruption in local levels.