By Sangam Prasain
Kathmandu, Jan 13 (efe-epa).- The Supreme Court of Nepal on Wednesday resumed hearings on 13 petitions against the dissolution of parliament last month that has since plunged Nepal into a deep institutional crisis.
On Dec.20, President Bidya Devi Bhandari endorsed the recommendation of Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s government to dissolve the House of Representatives, and announced general elections in April and May next year, more than a year ahead of schedule.
Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana heads a five-judge bench to study whether the dissolution of the lower house of the Federal Parliament was constitutional.
The spokesperson of the country’s top court, Bhadrakali Pokharel, told EFE on Wednesday that they were discussing whether to send the writs to the extended full bench or continue the hearing by the Constitutional Bench.
“The final hearing will begin only after the decision over the bench,” Pokharel said.
The Himalayan nation’s apex court has become the last hope against the dissolution of the parliament, after pressure on the streets with numerous demonstrations failed to have the expected impact.
Experts are of the opinion that President Bhandari’s decision to support the Oli’s cabinet recommendation went against the country constitution.
As per the country’s laws, the parliament may be dissolved before its five-year term is over only if the ruling party does not enjoy a majority in the house and no other party is able to form the government.
“It is unconstitutional to dissolve the parliament in a midway. But the judiciary is the ultimate institution to ascertain whether it is unconstitutional or not. The fate of the parliament is now in the hands of the judiciary,” senior advocate Chandra Kant Gyawali told EFE.
“President Bhandari has completely failed to play her role of the guardian of the constitution,” added Gyawali, a constitutional lawyer.
The decision to dissolve the parliament was preceded by a growing rift between two factions of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), born from a merger between the CPN-UML led by Oli and the CPN (Maoist Center) of former guerrilla commander Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The two parties came to power as an alliance in February 2018, after gaining a strong majority in the general elections. They officially merged in May that same year, with Marxism-Leninism as its guiding philosophy.
The alliance gave way to a government with the greatest popular support in Nepal in the last two decades.
But frictions between the two factions of the alliance began last year, when Dahal demanded that power be shared alternatively between them government to alternate power between them.
Following the refusal by Oli, who was also accused of promoting corruption, the party began making preparations to dismiss him, but the prime minister moved first by dissolving the parliament.
Oli defended his decision claiming the elected government was cornered and not allowed to function, in a clear reference to the other leaders in his own party. The move led all ministers belonging to the Dahal faction to submit their resignation.
In all probability, for the umpteenth time in the last six decades, the powerful Communist Party of Nepal will be split again.
“The split is imminent. The situation has reached the point of no return,” Lok Raj Baral, an expert in South Asian political study, told EFE.
“This is unfortunate for the poor country like Nepal which has pushed the young democracy into an unprecedented constitutional crisis and political turmoil,” Baral added.