Nepal’s Vice-President Paramananda Jha on Sunday refused to re-take his oath of office and secrecy though the government prepared the ceremony at the President’s office on Sunday.
Mr. Jha was invited by the government to take his oath in Nepali language, as per the Supreme Court’s order. Instead, he held a press meet at his office and said he “could think about it only when the constitution amendment bill is endorsed by the Constituent Assembly and the government” to allow oaths to be taken in mother tongue.
The Council of Ministers has agreed to amend the interim constitution, an amendment bill which is awaiting discussion but the Maoists have been obstructing Parliament for the last one month in protest against President Ram Baran Yadav’s decision in May to reinstate the Army Chief.
Meanwhile, at his press meet, Mr. Jha reiterated that the Supreme Court’s decision was biased. “It is against the democratic norms and against the Nepali people’s rights to use their mother tongue,” he said. The interim constitution recognises all the languages spoken as mother tongue as “national languages”. But it says the President, Vice-President and the Prime Minister must take the oath in Nepali language.
Interestingly, Mr. Jha did not taken his oath in his mother tongue, Maithili either; he had translated the oath administered in Nepali into Hindi. Hindi is used in the Terai region (the southern plains) as lingua franca. On Sunday, the Madhesh-based parties had requested him to take the oath in both Maithili and Nepali.
Mr. Jha said, “Nationalism is reflected by feelings, not by language”. “And since the President has not been given any instruction or order [by the Supreme Court] to make the Vice-President retake the oath, it has created a serious constitutional crisis,” Mr. Jha told reporters averring that his oath had been “accepted by the President”. Mr. Jha however signed the oath papers in Nepali.
The Supreme Court last Sunday had asked the Vice-President to retake his oath in Nepali in a week’s time or be ready to vacate his post. Law experts say Mr. Jha cannot continue to function as Vice-President and cannot enjoy the facilities provided to him as he did not abide by the Court’s order.