KATHMANDU, Nov 28: Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe has initiated the process to recommend office bearers at the National Information Commission (NIC) in breach of her jurisdiction. All three NIC positions will fall vacant after a month.
Tumbahamphe called the meeting of recommendation committee to name the chief commissioner and two commissioners at the NIC on Wednesday at her office at Singha Durbar although the existing laws state that only the speaker can head such a committee.
But in the absence of House speaker following the resignation of Krishna Bahadur Mahara, the recommendation committee had not met until Wednesday.
The constitution, existing laws and parliamentary regulations bar deputy speaker from performing the role of speaker except for chairing the House of Representatives meeting, according to legal experts. A ruling Nepal Communist Party lawmaker said that the deputy speaker cannot make the recommendations. “As our constitution and existing laws bar the deputy speaker from performing the core roles of the speaker, she cannot make the recommendations to fill the NIC vacancies,” said Ram Narayan Bidari, who is also a constitutional expert.
Article 91(4) of the constitution states that ‘the deputy speaker shall, in the absence of the speaker, chair the House of Representatives’ but it has not given the other rights of speaker to the deputy speaker.
“The constitution wisely didn’t give the speaker’s role to deputy speaker because parties were conscious that the post usually goes to the non-ruling political party,” Bidari, who was involved in constitution-making, explained.
Deputy Speaker Tumbahamphe, following pressure from the government and after consulting legal experts, had earlier refrained from certifying five various bills stating that only the speaker can do so.
But Minster for Information and Communications Gokul Baskota said Wednesday that the recommendation committee led by the deputy speaker has initiated the process of naming NIC chief and two commissioners. “We have finalized the recommendation working procedure on Wednesday. The committee will name the chief and commissioners by December 9,” Baskota told Republica after the meeting.
Section 11 (3) of the Right to Information Act 2007 has stated that the speaker will be the chairperson while Minister for Communication and Information Technology and President of Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ) will be the members of the recommendation committee.
Meanwhile, Minister Baskota argued that the deputy speaker can perform the duties of speaker except those specified for the speaker alone. “If the deputy president can perform the role of president in the latter’s absence why can’t the deputy speaker do the same?” Baskota argued.
The five-year terms of the chief commissioner and two commissioners at the NIC are expiring on January 9, 2020.