Kathmandu: The Supreme Court issued a ruling on Thursday, ordering the initiation of a new government formation in Koshi Province within seven days, deeming the current Uddhav Thapa-led government unconstitutional.
With this, Thapa lost his position within a mere three weeks of assuming office.
A full bench of the apex court, consisting of Justices Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, Ananda Mohan Bhattarai, and Til Prasad Shrestha, issued the order, citing Speaker Baburam Gautam’s support for the Thapa-led government as unconstitutional. The court’s decision came in response to a writ petition filed by the main opposition party, CPN-UML, which contested the government’s formation process, terming it unconstitutional.
Uddhav Thapa had been appointed Chief Minister on July 6, but the following day, the CPN-UML moved the court to challenge the ruling alliance’s claim of majority support to form the government, which included the Speaker’s endorsement.
According to the court’s directive, the new government will be formed in accordance with Article 168(2) of the constitution. This article requires two or more parties to demonstrate their majority in the provincial assembly to stake their claim for government formation. In the event that no party can show a majority within the stipulated seven days, the government will be formed under the leadership of the largest party in the province, as per Article 168(3).
Article 168(3) specifies that if a government cannot be formed under the provisions of 168(2), the provincial head shall appoint the parliamentary party leader of the party with the highest number of members in the provincial assembly as the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister appointed under either clause (2) or (3) must obtain a vote of confidence from the provincial assembly no later than 30 days after their appointment.
The CPN-UML holds the highest number of seats (40) in the 93-member assembly.
Koshi province governor Parshuram Khapung had appointed Thapa, the parliamentary party leader of the Nepali Congress, as the new Chief Minister, based on claims of majority support, which included the Speaker’s backing. Thapa’s appointment was made under the provisions of Article 168(2) of the constitution, as he presented signatures from 46 lawmakers along with Speaker Baburam Gautam’s endorsement.