KATHMANDU, Oct 14: As the post of speaker remains vacant following Krishna Bahadur Mahara's arrested on a charge of attempted rape, Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe is preparing to certify some bills although constitutional provisions and parliamentary regulations are silent about her authority to do so.
Former speaker Mahara had yet to certify five of the bills endorsed by the House of Representative during the budget session. Sources said Deputy Speaker Tumbahamphe had asked for the five bills from the Bills Section of the Parliament Secretariat for certification and forwarding to President Bidya Devi Bhandari for authentication.
Then speaker Mahara had certified the Forest Bill 2075 BS, Environment Conservation Bill 2075 BS, Passport Bill 2075 BS, Safeguard and Anti-Dumping and Countervailing Bill 2075 BS, and the Bill on Economic Work Procedures and Financial Responsibility 2075 BS, and sent them to the president for authentication.
However, Mahara had chosen to put on hold various other bills endorsed by parliament including the Bill on the Operation, Supervision and Coordination of Nepal Police and Provincial Police 2075 BS, National Identity Card and Civil Registration Bill 2075 BS, Police Adjustment Bill 2075 BS, Land Related Bill (Eighth Amendment) 2075 BS, and Industrial Enterprise Bill 2075 BS.
Rule 135 (2) of the Parliamentary Regulations states that after s/he certifies the bills endorsed by parliament the speaker should send them to the president for authentication . Similarly, Article 113 (1) of the Constitution states that any bill is certified by the speaker in accordance with Rule 134 of the House of Representatives Regulations 2075 BS.
However, there is no mention of giving the authority of certification to the deputy speaker in the absence of the speaker.
Constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya said the core functions of the speaker other than conducting House meetings are not delegated to the deputy speaker. “All necessary core functions have been designated for the speaker alone. If the deputy speaker starts certifying bills, this goes against the spirit of the existing provisions,” he said.
Acharya further said that the situation is the same in the case of the powers of the president. Just as many of the powers of the president are not delegated to the vice president, the core functions of the speaker are also not delegated to the deputy speaker. “It is only the conduct of House business that the deputy speaker can engage in. The deputy speaker cannot conduct other core functions of the speaker,” he said.
Article 94 (4) of the Constitution of Nepal states that the deputy speaker shall, in the absence of the speaker, chair the House of Representatives. Although the deputy speaker is preparing to certify the bills on the basis of this same provision, legal and constitutional experts say this goes against the spirit of the constitution and parliamentary regulations.