Constitutional bench hearing House dissolution writs to be re-formed

After justices Tej Bahadur KC and Bam Kumar Shrestha were asked to recuse themselves from the constitutional bench that is hearing the writs filed against House dissolution, resulting in two other justices opting out of the bench, Justice Cholendra Shumsher JB Rana yesterday said that a new constitutional bench would be formed on June 6.

Rana is presiding over the five-member constitutional bench hearing the House dissolution case.
Justices Deepak Kumar Karki and Anand Mohan Bhattarai opted out of the bench on Tuesday after KC and Shrestha refused to recuse themselves.

Shrestha was on the Supreme Court bench that scrapped the CPN-UML – CPN-Maoist Centre merger whereas KC was on the bench that rejected the review petition filed to challenge the decision of nullifying the merger.

Petitioners, who are challenging the House dissolution, have been demanding that KC and Shrestha opt out of the bench due to conflict of interest, stating that the scrapping of UML-Maoist merger had eventually led to House dissolution.

KC and Shrestha, however, have been saying that there is no link between the merger nullification decision and House dissolution case.

Earlier, when the House of Representatives was dissolved for the first time on December 20, Justice Hari Krishna Karki had recused himself from the constitutional bench after petitioners pointed out that he was appointed the attorney general by the KP Sharma Oli government before being nominated as SC justice.

Officials of the Supreme Court Bar Association had met with Rana on Tuesday and urged him to form a new constitutional bench on the basis of seniority by amending the rules of procedure of the constitutional session to avoid future controversies.

Nepal plunged into fresh political turmoil on May 22 as President Bidya Devi Bhandari dissolved parliament and fixed general elections in November amid a worsening COVID-19 outbreak.

The decision was taken on the recommendation of the cabinet headed by caretaker Prime Minister Oli, whose December 2020 dissolution of parliament sparked weeks of protests and was reversed by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in February.

A presidential statement said that neither caretaker PM Oli, nor opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba were able to demonstrate a majority to form a new government by the deadline set by Bhandari.

Oli has been insisting fresh elections could end the political confusion of recent months. Elections could be held despite the COVID-19 pandemic, he has told reporters.

Nepal is battling a deadly second wave of the pandemic and most parts of the country are currently under prohibitory orders.