KATHMANDU, March 15: The swearing in of President Bidya Bhandari for a second term has been called into question as the oath of office was administered to the head of state by Gopal Parajuli, who had just been relieved of his post as chief justice.
A secretarial decision by the Judicial Council relieved Parajuli of his post on Wednesday and informed the authorities concerned about the decision the same day. The letter was made public to media at 4:48 p.m. through email. According to sources at the Judicial Council Secretariat, the President's Office was informed about the decision prior to Bhandari's swearing-in ceremony. “But the President's Office decided to go ahead with the oath-taking, stating that the stage was already set for the purpose and the official letter would take time to reach Sheetal Niwas from Ram Shah Path,” said the sources.
The distance from the Judicial Council office on Ram Shah Path to the President's Office at Maharajgunj is five kilometers.
The swearing-in ceremony for president re-elect Bhandari started at 4:50 p.m. and Bhandari took the oath of office from Parajuli although news about Parajuli being relieved of his post was already made public.
Interestingly, television channels were running breaking news scrolls at the bottom of the screen about CJ Parajuli being relieved even as the swearing in of Bhandari was being broadcast live from Sheetal Niwas.
Bhes Raj Adhikari, the personal secretary to the president, claimed that the President's Office did not know about Parajuli's removal from his post until after the oath taking.
“The President's Office had not received the official letter from the Judicial Council's secretary till late evening Wednesday,” he said hours after the oath was administered.
Advocate Om Prakash Aryal told Republica, “A question has arisen over the legitimacy of the oath administered by CJ Parajuli whose term had already expired.”
Former finance secretary Rameshore Khanal tweeted Wednesday evening demanding that President Bhandari should take the oath of office again. “Right honorable president should take oath of office again because no one should become president who doesn't stand on truth and honesty,” he tweeted.
Many others also took to social media questioning the legitimacy of the oath of office administered by a CJ who had been relieved of his post. However, Parajuli had not received the letter terminating his tenure until after he administered the oath of office and secrecy to Bhandari.