The Supreme Court (SC) has revoked the Cabinet reshuffle by Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli after House dissolution.
The joint bench of Chief Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana and Justice Prakash Kumar Dhungana hearing the petition against Cabinet reshuffle issued an interim order on Tuesday to not immediately implement the decision to reshuffle Cabinet essentially removing 20 ministers.
The SC has based its interim order on Article 77(3) of the Constitution and said that the PM, prima facie, does not seem to have the rights to reshuffle or expand the Cabinet when Article 77(3) has specifically stated that the existing Cabinet will continue to function when the House has been dissolved and no other article of the Constitute mentions that such PM can reshuffle or expand the Cabinet like a PM at other normal times.
"If the Prime Minister ceases to hold the office according to clause (1), the same council of ministers shall continue to work until another council of ministers is constituted," states Article 77(3) of the Constitution.
Finance Minister Bishnu Paudel, Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha, Law Minister Lila Nath Shrestha and Physical Infrastructure Minister Basanta Kumar Nembang, who were ministers before the House dissolution, are the only ministers in the Oli Cabinet now.
A single bench of Justice Ishwore Prasad Khatiwada conducting the first hearing on the petitions against the Cabinet reshuffle on June 8 had ordered the government to furnish reasons for Cabinet reshuffle in writing within 15 days.
The petitioners claimed that the government formed under Article 76(3) of the Constitution currently is of caretaker status and cannot reshuffle and expand Cabinet like regular governments. The petitions point that a caretaker government can only carry out essential works and argues that expansion of Cabinet is not essential.
The SC had invited both the sides for hearing Tuesday to decide whether an interim order needs to be issued or not.
Oli first reshuffled the Cabinet on June 4 making Bishnu Paudel (finance), Raghubir Mahaseth (foreign) and Rajendra Mahato deputy PMs.
Education Minister Krishna Gopal Shrestha, Law Minister Lila Nath Shrestha and Physical Infrastructure Minister Basanta Nembang were the only ministers other than Paudel to not have been ousted during the reshuffle.
Sher Bahadur Tamang was the new Health Minister replacing Hridayesh Tripathi.
Oli also inducted ministers from the Thakur-Mahato faction of Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) led by Senior Leader Rajendra Mahato.
Sharat Singh Bhandari got Energy Ministry, Anil Jha Water Supplies Ministry, Uma Shankar Argariya Civil Aviation, Bimal Srivastav Labor Ministry, Laxman Lal Karna Land Reforms Ministry, Chanda Chaudhary Women Children and Social Welfare Ministry and Iqbal Miya Youth and Sports Ministry.
Chandrakanta Chaudhary was Minister of State for Energy and Renuka Gurung Minister of State for Women Children and Social Welfare.
Oli again expanded the Cabinet on June 10, two days after the SC issued show cause notice in the case, inducting seven ministers and two state ministers.
Khaga Raj Adhikari was appointed home minister, Nainkala Thapa communication and information technology minister, Jwala Kumari Sah agriculture minister, Narad Muni Rana forest minister, Raj Kishore Yadav industry minister, Ganesh Pahadi general administration minister, Mohan Baniya minister without portfolio and Asha BK minister of state for forest.
(The report incorrectly mentioned the number of ministers removed earlier. The error is regretted. It has also been updated to include the reason given for the interim order.)