KATHMANDU – Nepal’s Supreme Court overturned on Tuesday Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s decision to dissolve the country’s parliament two months ago.
A five-member bench led by Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana ordered the government to call a meeting of the reinstated house within 13 days, court spokesperson Bhadrakali Pokhrel told EFE.
“With this decision, the House of Representatives has now been reinstated.”
The verdict came as a surprise to the beleaguered prime minister who was celebrating his 70th birthday on Tuesday.
Oli had justified the decision to dissolve the 275-member lower house, claiming the elected government was not allowed to function, in reference to the other leaders of his party.
Some 13 writ petitions, including the one by the ruling Nepal Communist Party’s chief Whip Dev Prasad Gurung, were filed to seek the restoration of the dissolved house. The bench conducted hearings on the case from Jan. 17 to Feb. 19.
The Himalayan country had been in a political turmoil since Dec. 20 when Oli suddenly dissolved parliament and called for elections ahead of schedule.
The opposition party Nepali Congress welcomed the court verdict as historic in favor of democracy.
“The decision of the Supreme Court has defeated dictatorship,” Nepali Congress spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma told EFE. “The Supreme Court has made a historic decision in favor of the people.”
Former prime minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, chairman of the faction of the Nepal Communist Party, tweeted that the restoration of the elected house had enhanced the dignity of the court.
“This is a very commendable and historic decision by reversing the prime minister’s move.”
Oli’s controversial decision was preceded by a growing rift between two factions of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
The NCP was born from a merger between the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist) led by Oli and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) of former guerrilla commander Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The two parties came to power as an alliance in February 2018, after gaining a strong majority in the general elections.
They officially merged in May that same year, with Marxism-Leninism as its guiding philosophy.