Amid possibility of Nepal getting a new constitution soon, a rift has surfaced between major political parties and the country's apex court over a 16-point deal signed earlier this month.
On Friday, a Supreme Court bench stayed implementation of the deal between four ruling and opposition parties to fast-track drafting of the constitution, saying it violates provisions of the interim constitution.
The parties, however, have refused to accept the SC order and are going ahead with their plans to deliver a draft of the constitution by mid-July.
"The constituent assembly is independent and capable of delivering the constitution. Decisions taken by it are final," said a statement released by the four parties in reaction to the SC directive.
In an urgent meeting held on Friday evening, the major parties termed the SC move as the judiciary's intervention on political issues and violation of the constituent assembly's rights.
The development has put the major parties and the judiciary on a collision course and could further delay drafting of the constitution.
On June 8, ruling Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and opposition Maoists and Madhesi Jan Adhikar Forum (Loktantrik) had signed the deal agreeing to divide Nepal into eight states.
It left the task of demarcating the boundaries of the new states to a federal commission. The recommendations of the commission were to be passed by majority vote in the constituent assembly and incorporated in the new constitution.
The deal, opposed by some minor parties, sought to end the long-standing differences between political parties over federalism and expedite the constitution drafting process which has been underway since 2008.
But earlier this week, a writ petition was filed in SC terming the agreement as improper. Upholding the contention, the SC bench stated the deal violated provisions in the interim constitution which gave the task of state formation to the constituent assembly and not a federal commission.
Some legal experts believe the SC move will lead to friction between the judiciary and the constituent assembly.
"In the past, we have seen the apex court staying away from political issues. But this order is a departure from normal practice," Nepal Bar Association's general secretary Sunil Kumar Pokharel told Republica daily.