Nepal’s Supreme Court on Sunday dismissed the legitimacy of the country’s ruling Nepal Communist Party, formed in 2018 through the merger of KP Sharma Oli-led Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) and Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”-led Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), The Indian Express reported.

A two-judge bench of Justices Kumar Regmi and Bom Kumar Shrestha passed the verdict on a nearly three-year old case, in which a person named Rishiram Kattel had challenged a decision by the country’s Election Commission to register the party under Oli and Dahal, according to the Kathmandu Post. Kattel had contended that the name Nepal Communist Party was alloted to his outfit.

The two parties led by Oli and Dahal now exist as separate entities, as they did before the merger. The court said that if the two sides still wanted to unite, “they should begin the process afresh and immediately apprise the Election Commission about it”, The Indian Express reported.

The decision assumed significance as it came hours before a session of the country’s House of Representatives after the Supreme Court, last month, annulled its dismissal by Oli effected in December 2020. On Sunday, Oli said that while he welcomed the decision, it effectively meant that the House that had a single party majority has now become a hung one, The Indian Express reported.

In the countrywide election in December 2017, Oli and Dahal’s factions fought on a joint manifesto and their own respective election symbols with tickets allocated on 60:40 ratio, according to The Indian Express. The UML had won 121 seats and the Maoist Centre bagged 53. Later in May 2018, they merged, giving birth to the now dismissed NCP.

However, President Bidya Devi Bhandari on December 20 last year, ratified a proposal of the Oli-led Cabinet, to dissolve the Parliament, following infighting between the two factions. The president’s office had also announced fresh elections between April 30 and May 10. But, the Supreme Court overturned that decision and recommended a meeting of the House in 13 days.