The Supreme Court's verdict to revoke appointment of Uddhav Thapa of Nepali Congress (NC) as the Koshi province chief minister (CM) has created confusion about care-taker CM.
The full bench including Justices Ishwore Prasad Khatiwada, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Til Prasad Shrestha on Thursday has deemed signing by the speaker to form the government unconstitutional and given seven days to form a new government of two or more than two parties in the province.
Some argue that Thapa's predecessor Hikmat Karki should be caretaker CM as the SC has ruled Thapa's government to be unconstitutional.
"I will be the CM as per the court's verdict because it revoked Uddhav Thapa's government from the point of his appointment. I was CM before that and it will get continuity," Karki told Setopati after the SC verdict. "I will now try to secure majority inside the provincial assembly. It will move forward as per the Constitution if I fail to secure majority."
Constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya, who fought the case on behalf of Karki, and advocate Tikaram Bhattarai also concurred. "The SC did not just revoke the decision but also revoked all the activities carried out after the point at which the Constitution was unconstitutionally used. The process right from the speaker's signature to support Thapa for CM has been revoked. Hikmat Karki was caretaker CM at the start of the process to appoint Thapa. The situation has reached back there now," Bhattarai argued.
Government lawyers, however, point that the SC did not rule that Karki be made CM and hence Thapa should continue as caretaker CM.
"Thapa will continue as caretaker CM until the next government is formed. The SC should order if Hikmat Karki were to become CM. There is no order instructing to make Karki caretaker CM. The court instead has stated that the order demanded by Karki to allow him to run the government now need not be given," Attorney General Din Mani Pokharel stressed.
The SC has instructed to form a new government under Article 168 (3) of the Constitution if a new government including two or more than two parties could not be formed in seven days.
Outgoing chief minister and CPN-UML parliamentary party leader for Koshi province Hikmat Kumar Karki had filed a petition at the Supreme Court on Friday stating that province chief Parshuram Khapung had appointed Uddhav Thapa of Nepali Congress as the chief minister in an unconstitutional manner.
NC parliamentary party leader Uddhav Thapa was appointed the new chief minister of Koshi province on July 6 with the support of 47 lawmakers from the ruling coalition--29 from NC, 13 including Koshi provincial assembly Speaker Baburam Gautam from CPN (Maoist Center), four from CPN (Unified Socialist) and one from Janata Samajwadi Party.
UML had then moved the SC against the government formation saying it was against the Constitution for the speaker to support a claim for the post of chief minister.
Karki had demanded that Thapa’s appointment be revoked through a certiorari order, arguing that the appointment made as per Article 168 (2) of the Constitution was illegitimate. He had also demanded a mandamus to pave the way for his appointment as chief minister in accordance with Article 168 (3) of the Constitution.
Koshi province chief Khapung, chief minister Thapa and Koshi provincial assembly Speaker Baburam Gautam were made defendants in the petition.