Hearing on case related to constitutional appointments to continue Wednesday

The Supreme Court (SC) will continue hearing on the petitions filed against amendment of the law related to the Constitutional Council and appointments made in accordance to that amendment.

The constitutional bench including acting Chief Justice (CJ) Deepak Kumar Karki, and Justices Meera Khadka, Hari Krishna Karki, Bishwambhar Shrestha and Ishwor Prasad Khatiwada started from Friday.

Three lawyers pleaded on behalf of the petitioners on Friday, according to one of the petitioners Om Prakash Aryal, while the other side was allotted one hour.

“The next hearing will be held on Wednesday. The bench has allotted one hour to the other side for that day,” Aryal stated.

The then prime minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli on December 15, 2020 had unilaterally issued the ordinance with a provision that allowed decision in the Constitutional Council with support of the majority of the existing members without even discussing the ordinance in the Cabinet which also included some ministers who were against the ordinance.

The then Constitutional Council Act required presence of four members apart from the PM to constitute quorum, and decision could only be taken through consensus. President Bidya Devi Bhandari had hastily authenticated the controversial ordinance and issued a notice to that regard but withheld details about the ordinance.

Aryal and other petitioners moved the SC against the ordinance the very next day.

Aryal’s petition pointed that the Constitutional Council meeting was held at five in the evening even before it was published in the Nepal Gazette for the information of general public to study the amendments, and demands revocation of any decision taken by the meeting held even before the ordinance was published in the Nepal Gazette, interim order preventing implementation of the ordinance until the case was decided, and appropriate order to warn the executive branch of the state and its leadership that committed a fraud against the Constitution by issuing the ordinance violating constitutional morality to prevent unconstitutional actions.

Oli had then made appointments in accordance to the ordinance. Petitions were lodged even against those appointments.

There was dispute about whether CJ Cholendra Shumsher Rana, who is now suspended after registration of an impeachment motion against him, could hear the petitions or not as he was one of the members that helped constitute quorum in that Constitutional Council meeting.

Rana had verbally announced to recuse himself from the case but a single bench of Justice Hari Phuyal hearing another petition related to eligibility of Rana hearing the case had stopped hearing of the case by constitutional bench excluding Rana pointing that the Constitution requires the constitutional bench to be headed by the CJ.

Karki’s order also invited controversy.

Acting CJ Karki a few days back had transferred the case to the constitutional bench from a joint bench.

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