KATHMANDU, Feb 27: The government is planning to retract a controversial provision in the National Security Council Bill that allows the prime minister to mobilize the army without the recommendation of the security council.
Defense Minister Ishwar Pokharel on Wednesday said that the government has decided to replace the National Security Council Bill with a new bill after removing the contentious issue that had drawn widespread criticism from all quarters of the society.
Although the Ministry of Defense had registered the disputed bill in the Parliament Secretariat a year ago, the bill was never tabled in the full House for deliberations following massive criticism from the opposition parties and the civil society over its controversial provision which critics said was against the constitution.
“The bill was registered prior to the promulgation of the National Security Policy last year. We are registering a new bill in the parliament in line with the policy soon,” said Pokhrel during a function organized at the ministry to shed light on the achievements made during his two years in office.
The defense ministry has already finalized the draft of the new bill which is ready to be forwarded to the cabinet. Once the cabinet endorses it, the bill will be registered in parliament.
The contentious bill tabled last year is set to be withdrawn from the parliament. The bill proposes giving powers to the prime minister, who is the chairperson of the National Security Council, to mobilize army without the recommendation of the council and prior approval from the president, in cases of emergency.
The opposition parties and stakeholders had expressed strong objection to the provision and demanded withdrawal of the bill stating that it undermines the constitutional provision of army mobilization.
The constitution allows the cabinet to mobilize the Nepal Army upon the recommendation of the seven-member National Security Council. As per the constitutional provision, the president, who is the supreme commander-in-chief of the army, can order mobilization of army after a cabinet decision.
Following protests from the opposition parties, the government had put the bill on hold in parliament without forwarding it for deliberations and endorsement. According to sources at the Parliament Secretariat, the defense ministry had asked them not to forward the bill citing government’s plan to withdraw it.
The government has still put the National Human Rights Commission Bill, Public Service Commission Bill, Bill on Peace and Order and Bill on National Priority Projects on hold in parliament due to protests from stakeholders over some controversial provisions in those bills.