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Nepal SC denies more time for constitution

Utpal Parashar, Hindustan Times: With less than two months remaining for lawmakers in Nepal to draft a new constitution, the country’s Supreme Court has refused to grant them more time to complete the task.On Wednesday, a single judge bench rejected petitions filed by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and Constituent Assembly Speaker Subas Nembang to review an earlier order.
Lawmakers now have no option but to draft the statute within the May 28 deadline or seek options like fresh polls to elect a new set of lawmakers or extend CA tenure by declaring emergency.

Nepal’s existing CA was elected in 2008 with a mandate to draft a new statute within two years. But despite four extensions, the task is nowhere near completion.

Acting on a petition, the SC had ruled in November 25 that CA tenure could be extended for one last time. Four days later, lawmakers extended CA term by six months.

In December both Bhattarai and Nembang filed review petitions against the SC verdict. But after they were rejected by the court’s joint registrar, both filed fresh petitions in January.

“There was no ground for registering (petitions) and reviewing the (November 25) verdict as demanded by the PM and Speaker,” the bench observed Wednesday.

The verdict, the first instance of the top judicial body rejecting petitions by heads of legislature and executive, is indicative of the rift between these organs at a time of transition.

Some lawmakers expressed reservations on the judiciary infringing on the rights of the legislature to amend constitution and extend the CA tenure while other accepted the order grudgingly.

“The SC verdict is against established norms,” commented former law minister and senior Maoist leader Dev Gurung.

Lawmakers are also miffed with SC judges for opposing proposed changes in the new constitution like setting up of a constitutional court and reappointment of judges after the new statute becomes operational.

Power tussle among major political parties and differences on key issues like form of government, restructuring of states and type of election has delayed the constitution drafting process.

Published Date: Thursday, March 29th, 2012 | 06:40 PM

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