HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai and former Deputy Prime Minister and Law Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula today appeared in court to face a contempt charge.
PM Bhattarai claimed that the Cabinet decision to withdraw the proposal on Constituent Assembly’s term extension and go for a fresh election as per its order proved his respect for the court.
“The judiciary is the guardian of the people. It is mandatory for all the state authorities to follow court verdicts. I have always abided by its order in the capacity of a public official,” Bhattarai said.
He claimed that the government had registered the constitution amendment bill in the parliament with political consensus. He said the amendment bill was not meant to extend the CA’s term, but to manage the procedural matters of the parliament just before the expiry of the constitution drafting body as per the November 25 verdict of the apex court.
It is within the jurisdiction of the Parliament to amend any provision of the Constitution, he said, adding that registration of the bill should not be construed as disrespect to the court.
“Without the approval of the bill, it is not justifiable to declare it unconstitutional and contemptuous,” Bhattarai added.
Bhattarai, in his written statement, said the expiry of the CA does not mean it can’t be elected again like the normal parliament. Arguing that the November 25 court verdict has also accepted this, Bhattarai said regular periodic election of the CA is impossible.
Stating that the Interim Constitution can be amened on the basis of Article 148, Bhattarai claimed that such a move is not meant to disrespect the court. The extension of the CA tenure at the time of emergency and extension through constitutional amendment are totally different matters, he said. “There is no chance of drafting the constitution by declaring emergency,” he argued. Stating that neither did he work against the apex court order, nor obstruct for its implementation, Bhattarai claimed there was no reason to punish him in the contempt charge that advocate Kamal Prasad Itani had filed. He claimed that he has faith in the judiciary and the rule of law and urged to quash the petition.
On his part, Sitaula said the government had registered the bill to complete the constitution making task, so it was unnecessary to interpret that action as contempt of court.