SC quashes appointment of 20 Cabinet ministers by PM Oli

SC quashes appointment of 20 Cabinet ministers by PM Oli

Kathmandu: In a major blow to beleaguered Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that the appointment of 20 ministers by him was unconstitutional, invalidating his two recent Cabinet expansions after the dissolution of the House of Representatives.

A division bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Prakash Kumar Dhungana ruled that Cabinet expansions after the dissolution of the House were unconstitutional and hence, the ministers cannot discharge their duties, a report in the Kathmandu Post said.

Two deputy Prime Ministers, Rajendra Mahato from Janata Samajwadi Party and Raghubir Mahaseth from Oli's CPN-UML were among those who lost the posts. Mahaseth was also the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

With the order, there are only five ministers left in Oli's Cabinet, including the Prime Minister.

The ministers include Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel, Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha, Physical Infrastructure Minister Basant Nembang and Law Minister Lilanath Shrestha.

The court passed the judgement on petitions filed on June 7 by six individuals, including senior advocate Dinesh Tripathi, demanding that the Cabinet expansions by the caretaker government be quashed.

Oli, 69, who is heading a minority government after losing a trust vote in the House last month, expanded his Cabinet on June 10 and June 4, inducting 17 ministers, amid widespread criticism and the ongoing political crisis in the Himalayan nation. Three state ministers were also appointed.

The Supreme Court has issued an interim order asking not to allow the ministers appointed after the House dissolution to function, said senior advocate Tripathi.

The Supreme Court has cited Article 77 (3) in its ruling to quash the appointments.

It states if the Office of the Prime Minister falls vacant after the prime minister fails to win a vote of confidence or resigns, the same Council of Ministers shall continue to act until another Council of Ministers is constituted, the report said. The petitioners had argued that since the government has already turned into a caretaker status following the announcement of the elections, the Constitution does not allow such a prime minister to appoint new ministers.

The development comes when the Supreme Court is hearing the case regarding the reinstatement of the 275-member House of Representatives, which was dissolved by President Bidya Devi Bhandari on May 22 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli.

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