KATHMANDU, OCTOBER 2
The Supreme Court today continued hearing on two writ petitions filed against nomination of vice-chair of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Bamdev Gautam to the National Assembly. The Constitutional bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana will conduct the next hearing in the case on October 7.
Gautam, who had lost the House of Representatives election in the last general election from his home constituency of Bardiya-1, was nominated by the president to the Upper House of the parliament on the recommendation of the government.
Senior advocates Dinesh Tripathi and Badriraj Bhatta argued that as per constitutional provision, a person who was defeated in the House of Representatives election could not become a minister during the current tenure of the HoR and hence Gautam’s nomination to the Upper House of the Parliament was against the spirit of the constitution.
A single bench of the SC had earlier ordered the government not to assign extra constitutional responsibility to Gautam and to maintain status quo on the issue till the court decides whether or not there is need for issuing an interim order in the case. Joint Attorney Sanjeeb Raj Regmi defended the government’s decision to nominate Gautam to the Upper House arguing that the National Assembly Election Act had not disqualified Gautam from being nominated to the Upper House. He said Article 86 of the Constitution that stipulated eligibility for the members of the federal parliament did not disqualify Gautam from becoming a member of the Upper House.
Regmi said Article 86 (b) of the current Constitution that provided for the nomination of three members stipulated that three members consisting of at least one woman shall be nominated by the president on the recommendation of the Government of Nepal. Unlike the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, this provision does not state that such persons should be from among the prominent people who have rendered outstanding contribution to the nation, according to Regmi.
He said the onus was on the government to select the right persons and that question could not become an issue of judicial review. Regmi also cited former minister Shyam Sundar Gupta’s case where the Supreme Court had observed that defeat of Gupta in the Constituent Assembly election did not disqualify him from being nominated by the president among the 26 persons to the Parliament.
Former attorney general Yubaraj Sangraula, Senior Advocate Raghav Lal Baidya and former president of Nepal Bar Association Sher Bahadur KC pleaded on behalf of Gautam.
The petitioners will have a chance to rebut the arguments of the defendants on next Wednesday when the court will decide whether or not there is a need for staying the nomination of Gautam to the National Assembly.
A version of this article appears in print on October 03, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.