This is the biggest test for Nepal’s Supreme Court. Where we will land next, including the future of the current political system and the constitution itself, will depend on the wisdom of the court.
With the unconstitutional dissolution of the House of Representatives (HoR) by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on December 20, many things are at stake in Nepal. The specter of political instability is glaring. Nearly all political parties are outraged against the PM’s move and they have declared protest programs against the PM’s anti-constitutional step. There is a real danger of matters going out of hand in the days to come.
The prospect of collapse of democratic institutions is so high. In the absence of the House, we have no sovereign body to decide on key matters of national concern such as, among other things, what to do with the USD 500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant — whether to endorse it or reject it. In the absence of the House, there is no institution to hold the government accountable to the people and the country. And in the absence of the House, the appointments to be made at the key constitutional bodies such as the National Human Rights Commission and many other commissions stands in limbo. From now on, everything will rest on the discretion and wisdom of the prime minister, which he has exhibited that he sorely lacks.
Meanwhile, as many as 13 writ petitions have been filed at the Supreme Court against the December 20 move of the prime minister. The major political parties, civil society and constitutional experts have termed the dissolution of the House unconstitutional, and they have been demanding and hoping that the Supreme Court will overturn the decision. On the other hand, the leaders close to Prime Minister Oli and the PM himself are publicly saying that the court cannot overturn the decision and that the dissolution of the House is nothing short of unconstitutional. At the same time, there are many people who think that the court will be influenced by the government. In this situation, people are anxiously awaiting the verdict of the Supreme Court. A wise and timely decision of the Supreme Court could go down as a step to revive the democratic institutions and restore faith in the political and judicial systems. An unwise and untimely decision from the court could become an excuse for prolonging the uncertainty and making the institutions weaker, even dysfunctional. This is the biggest test for Nepal’s apex court. Where we will land next, including the future of the current political system, and the constitution itself, will depend on the wisdom of the court.