House misses its roles due to absence of panels

Published On: May 29, 2018 08:21 AM NPT By: Republica

KATHMANMDU, May 29: Nearly three months have passed since the federal parliament started its business but it has not been able to perform its major duties due to delays in forming parliamentary committees. 

Following wrangling among the political parties over some provisions of the parliamentary regulations, the House has not been able to endorse the regulations, leading to delays in the formation of the parliamentary committees. 

The absence of a parliamentary committee is blamed for the delay in appointing chief justice at the Supreme Court, chief of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and chief and office bearers of the National Natural Resources and Finance Commission as well as parliamentary vigilance over government’s activities. A row in the ruling Nepal Communist Party over whether a lawmaker should be suspended right after his/her police arrest after being accused of a crime in  a court or only after the court verdict has delayed the endorsement of the parliamentary regulations for months. Likewise, political parties are divided over the methodology of fixing the term of the National Assembly members. 

The draft of the regulation has proposed 10 committees for the House of Representatives, four committees for National Assembly and two joint committees. “The process of forming parliamentary panels has been stuck following the delay in endorsing the parliamentary regulations by the House,” said Parliament Secretariat spokesman Bharat Gautam. 

The post of chief justice at the Apex Court remains vacant for over three months and the Constitutional Council has not taken any initiative to recommend to the council as the appointment process would get stuck in the absence of parliamentary hearing special committee. The President will appoint the chief justice only after endorsement of the recommendation through parliamentary hearings. 

Similarly, the Constitutional Council has not been given full shape because the position of chief justice is vacant. 

“Parliamentary hearings  for constitutional recommendations, discussions on budget, oversight of government activities and discussion on bills could be affected in the absence of the House panels,” said spokesman Gautam. 

The constitution has limited the role of members of the federal parliament to policy-making tasks, compared to the previous role of lobbying for development work in their constituencies. But lawmakers have remained business-less as the parliamentary panels also known as mini parliaments are not functional. 

Various controversial decisions of the government including consolidating the powers of the prime minister by bringing the intelligence division and anti-money laundering office under him, recommending murder convict Balkrishna Dhungel’s name for a presidential pardon among other things have not been discussed in parliament because of the absence of the House panels.  

Earlier parliamentary committees used to hold a series of meetings on gold smuggling, ending syndicate and other contemporary issues. But none of the issues have entered parliament after its election earlier this year.

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