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Nepal president to 'turn down' call to remove constitutional barriers

Publication Date : 12-09-2012

 

Nepal’s President Ram Baran Yadav is unlikely to endorse the government's recommendation for removing constitutional difficulties for making new appointments to constitutional bodies.

The recommendation comes without political consensus and intends to drag the president's office into a controversy, Sheetal Niwas officials commented yesterday.

The cabinet on Monday decided to request the president to exercise his power to remove the difficulties to amend the provisions of the Interim Constitution.

“The decision to request the president to remove constitutional difficulties at a time when four ordinances are on hold does not make any sense,” said an aide to the president.

He added that the President had already told the cabinet members including Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai that there should be political consensus for promulgating ordinances and amending the Interim Constitution.

The government's request urges the president to use his power to scrap the provision of parliamentary hearing for appointments to constitutional bodies, including those of Supreme Court judges and ambassadors, enshrined in Article 155 of the Interim Constitution. After the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly, the parliamentary hearing process for the appointments is invalid.

The president's aide claimed that the Interim Constitution envisages political consensus in appointments to the constitutional bodies by bringing the opposition leader and the Speaker, among others, to the Constitutional Council. The seven-member Council is defunct after the two posts fell vacant.

“The concept of parliamentary hearing in the Interim Constitution upholds the need for broader consensus in such high-stake appointments. This basic framework of the constitution cannot be challenged just on the basis of the government's unilateral request,” added the aide.

Constitutional lawyer Purna Man Shakya said even if the president removes the constitutional difficulties the move has to be endorsed by the parliament within 30 days. “Considering that the parliament will not come into existence within 30 days through an election, the step to remove constitutional difficulties will be invalid,” he said.

Constitutional lawyer Tika Ram Bhattarai echoed the president's aide arguing that the constitution cannot be amended through the provision of removal of constitutional difficulties.

“The request made by a caretaker government is unconstitutional. A lame-duck government does not have the authority to take such a policy-related decision,” said Bhattarai.

President's Press Advisor Rajendra Dahal declined to comment saying that the President's Office was yet to receive the Cabinet decision. He said President Yadav was busy with consultations regarding the four ordinances forwarded by the government last month.

 

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