Fresh crisis looms as court rejects CA term review petition

A new crisis seems to be looming over Nepal's fragile peace process, with the government and the judiciary locked up in a tussle over the question of another extension to the Constituent Assembly term.

The Supreme Court yesterday refused to entertain an application submitted by Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and chairman of the Constituent Assembly Subhash Chandra Nemwang seeking a review of an intrusive ruling.

The apex court had on November 25 ruled that the latest term extension of the Constituent Assembly for a six month period would effectively be the last and that it could not be extended for an indefinite period of time.

The Constituent Assembly's term now expires in May end and the contention is whether it could be given another extension if a new constitution could not be promulgated within the next five months period.

The Supreme Court turned down the government's appeal stating that there was no legal ground for a review of its last month's ruling on the CA term extension.

The Parliament and Cabinet had argued that the November 25 court verdict on CA term extension was unconstitutional and against the principle of separation of powers.

"We are taken aback by the court's refusal to register the petition," said CA chairman Nemwang.

When the Constituent Assembly last month endorsed the Interim Constitution amendment bill regarding the extension of the CA term by six months, the Supreme Court had ruled that the term could be extended only once for a six-month period, and not for an indefinite period of time.

Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee Niambar Acharya has termed as unfortunate the dispute between the important organs of the state -- the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

"We should try to find out a resolution to the problem rather than intensifying the dispute," he said.

"We need to move ahead with the objective of accomplishing the task of drafting the constitution within May end and all the obstacles arisen on the way should be cleared," he told PTI when asked for his response.

He also expressed concern regarding the dispute within the main ruling party UCPN-Maoist over the issue of constitution drafting process.

The differences within the largest party in the Constituent Assembly will adversely affect the constitution drafting process, he cautioned.

Although most of the differences surfaced in the constitution writing process have been resolved, the issues relating to forms of governance, electoral system and the state restructuring are yet to be decided.

However, the hardliner faction of the Maoist party led by senior vice chairman Mohan Vaidya has been obstructing the discussions on the constitution as they are not satisfied with some issues.

The differences stem from the Vaidya faction's insistence on use of the term "peoples war" in the preamble, over the minimum eligible age for voting which they want to be fixed at 16 years and the demand for compulsory military training for all citizens.

The Maoists' hardliner faction wants the phrase "peoples war" to be inserted in the preamble of the new constitution, which has already been rejected through the meeting of the dispute resolution sub-committee of the Constitution Drafting Committee, Acharya said.

The sub-committee has decided to use the word "armed struggle" instead.

The Maoists' hardliner faction also wants to include a provision which requires compulsory military training for all citizens which was also rejected by the sub-committee.

Vaidya's faction also wants further discussion over the issue of settling 18 years as the age to be eligible to vote, another issue that has already been settled by the sub-committee. The faction suggests making 16 years as the eligible age.

Internal differences within any political party should not reverse the already settled issues, he pointed out.

The Nepali Congress has also blamed the Maoists for delaying the constitution drafting process by trying to reverse the already settled issues.

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