KATHMANDU/NEW DELHI: In a big setback for K P Oli, Nepal’s Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the reinstatement of parliament, two months after the Prime Minister dissolved the House and called for an early election. After months of infighting in the ruling Nepal Communist Party fanned by his rivalry with former PM P K Dahal Prachanda, Oli had dissolved the parliament on December 20 in a move described by many as unconstitutional. The ruling means Oli, who was elected in 2018 following his party’s landslide win in an election in 2017, faces a no-confidence vote once parliament re-sits.
Oli’s decision to dissolve the House had come in the middle of an outreach to India that also saw his foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali visiting New Delhi in the middle of the political uncertainty in Kathmandu. Unlike China, though, India has kept away from the ruling party crisis, calling it Nepal’s internal matter. There was no reaction from India on Tuesday on the latest development.
A five-member constitutional bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher annulled the government’s decision to dissolve the 275-member lower house of parliament, according to a notice issued by the apex court. The court termed the dissolution of the House “unconstitutional” and ordered the government to summon the House session within the next 13 days. According to Nepalese media reports, the SC also scrapped all appointments made by Oli to various constitutional bodies after the dissolution of parliament.
Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 after President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved the House of Representatives and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Oli.
Ahead of Gyawali’s visit, Dahal had alleged that Oli had acted at India’s behest in dissolving the House. However, even as India hosted Gyawali for the joint commission meeting, PM Narendra Modi didn’t meet the visiting minister, probably because of the sensitivities involved.
Oli’s move to dissolve the House sparked protests from a large section of the Nepal Communist Party led by his rival Dahal. As many as 13 writ petitions including the one by the ruling party’s chief whip Dev Prasad Gurung were filed in the SC seeking restoration of the lower House.
Oli repeatedly defended his move, saying some leaders of his party were attempting to form a “parallel government”. In a letter to the Supreme Court last month, Oli said he was forced to take the step after his opponents in the ruling party made it difficult for him to work and accomplish various tasks.
The verdict was welcomed by opposition parties and opponents from his own party who have launched street protests across the country since the dissolution. Oli and his aides were not immediately available for comment but his lawyers said they would honour the ruling.