Such a reckless act of the President has certainly sent waves of resentment in the political circle. The opposition parties have shown great maturity at this time of the pandemic by deciding to take legal and political action for the rehabilitation of the Parliament. The court should, thus, immediately release a stay order and then rehabilitate the Parliament
The COVID-ravaged people of Nepal got yet another shock of their life early morning last Saturday with the news of the dissolution of the Parliament at midnight followed by the announcement of a twostage election after six months. It brings memories of the Indian freedom at midnight, but that was because of the time lag between India and England.
The undue haste shown by the President to deal a deathly blow to the Parliament, which had barely stood up on its knees following a similar punch meted to it only five months earlier, has baffled many in the political arena.
Because people were expecting the President to verify the claim of majority and appoint the deserving candidate to the coveted post of Prime Minister, her unconstitutional act of invitation notwithstanding.
Unfortunately, the President and the Prime Minister appear to revel in the breach of the constitution more than on its observation, when both of them have taken the oath to abide and protect it. This is because of the umpteenth time that the duo have stabbed the constitution, piercing it right through the heart.
It began with the dissolution of the Parliament on December 20 last year, which was luckily revived by the Supreme Court, declaring the act of the President unconstitutional. As if this was not enough, the government went ahead with the reappointment of the ministers from among the former parliamentarians for the second time, when this privilege was only for the first time not exceeding six months. The Court again declared the reappointment illegal.
It may be remembered that Oli was appointed the Prime Minister on virtue of being the leader of the party having the largest number of members in the Parliament according to Article 76 (3) of the constitution.
Such a Prime Minister should receive the confidence of the House of Representatives within 30 days of appointment.
If the Prime Minister cannot prove the majority within the stipulated time, the President can then appoint a Member of Parliament who produces bases of winning the vote of confidence within 30 days of the appointment.
The present presidential move was yet another glaring example of disregard of the constitution as it invited a Member of the Parliament for the formation of the government with bases of a majority in the parliament within an unbelievably short time of 21 hours when the Prime Minister had not resigned to create a vacant seat.
This was done soon after the declaration by Oli to have paved the way for the new government showing lack of majority in his favour in the House.
Some people had reached the Supreme Court as soon as it opened to file a petition against the unconstitutional act of the President the very next day. But their petition was not accepted to evade a possible stay order, which reflects the pre-meditated move of the President.
The events took an ugly turn when the Prime Minster took a somersault by seeking his appointment as the Prime Minster accompanied by the support of 152 members of the UML and Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) when the dissatisfied group of the UML headed by Madhav Nepal and the splinter group of the JSP led by Upendra Yadav had already joined the opposition camp.
It was followed by the claim by Sher Bahadur Deuba, the Nepali Congress president, to have the support of 149 members belonging to the NC, CPN-Maoist Centre, the dissatisfied group of the UML led by Madhav Nepal, the JSP faction led by Upendra Yadav and one member of the Parliament representing the Jana Morcha.
In such a situation, the President should have outright rejected the application of Oli after his announcement to withdraw from the prime ministerial race, citing the lack of requisite support in the Parliament barely four hours earlier.
Instead, the President cancelled the request of both the claimants, citing the duplication of names and the withdrawal of some parliamentarians.
In fact, the parliamentarians should have been invited for verification of their signatures as is generally done under such circumstances.
The worse to follow was the dissolution of the Parliament and announcement of the election dates when the country is fighting against the pandemic night and day.
Such a reckless act of the President has certainly sent waves of resentment in the political circle. The opposition parties have shown great maturity at this time of the pandemic by deciding to take legal and political action for the rehabilitation of the Parliament.
The court should immediately release a stay order and then rehabilitate the Parliament in view of, firstly, the precedence of rejecting the dissolution by the minority government led by former Prime Minister Mana Mohan Adhikari as is Oli at the present juncture.
Secondly, the Parliament can be dissolved by the Prime Minster appointed under clause 76(5) of the Parliament when Oli was appointed under 76(4).
This has been made clear by the verdict of the Supreme Court while reinstating the Parliament on the last occasion. Political action should be held only virtually because of the mounting pandemic and the government's directive to the Chief District Officers to implement the lockdown strictly.
The petition should be filed soon for the reinstatement of the House albeit a little differently this time.
Voices have been raised to hold the Prime Minister and the President responsible for contempt of court and the constitution.
History has shown how King Charles was beheaded in 1648 by such reckless acts of repeated dissolution of the Parliament in Britain.
The Nepali people believe in the ballot and not beheading as was seen in the ouster of King Gyanendra.
But some punitive measures should certainly be taken through an open trial in the court of the wrongdoers to ensure that the constitution is not stripped off indiscriminately in the future.
A version of this article appears in the print on May 26, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.