No business in parliament from next week

Published On: July 6, 2018 06:49 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

Govt sitting on fundamental right bills with just two months till deadline

KATHMANDU, July 6: Parliament is going to be without any business from next week even as the formulation of laws on fundamental rights in accordance with the constitutional provisions has become urgent. The deadline for drafting these laws is just two months away.

Due to the government’s failure to forward any business to the legislature, parliament has just one bill on hand for deliberations. 

Article 47 of the constitution says, “The state shall, as required, make legal provisions for the implementation of the rights conferred by this part (fundamental rights), within three years of the commencement of this Constitution.”

Speaker of the House of Representatives Krishna Bahadur Mahara met Prime Minister K P Oli on Thursday to inquire about the business that the government plans to provide parliament. According to Speaker Mahara, the government assured him that it would register some new bills for deliberations at the earliest. 
“He assured me about forwarding some bills to parliament at the earliest and informed that eight fundamental rights-related bills have been readied for registering,” he said. 

The Ministry of Law has identified at least 17 federal, 22 provincial and eight local laws that need to be formulated for the enforcement of the fundamental rights. But the ministry is yet to be done with drafting some of the bills even as the constitutional deadline approaches.

Sources said that the government plan is to get the urgent bills endorsed by parliament through fast track at the last hour. Three bills for replacing ordinances were fast-tracked in this fashion earlier this week just a few days prior to the deadline. 

But Speaker Mahara said he is against any fast-tracking of bills . “Many bills should have been discussed in the parliamentary committees. I am against any fast-tracking of legislation as it is an unhealthy practice,” Maraha told journalists at his chambers on Thursday.

Similarly, according to Article 304 of the constitution, the government should amend all laws at variance with the constitution within a year of the first meeting of parliament. The first meeting of parliament was convened on March 8, 2018. But the government is yet to identify the problematical laws so far. 

Hearings committee likely today
Speaker Mahara said that parliament’s meeting on Friday will form the parliamentary hearings special committee, appointing 12 members from the lower house. The other three members in the 15-member committee will be from the National Assembly.

Main opposition party Nepali Congress, which has not submitted any list of its lawmakers for appointment to the various committees, has submitted its names for the hearings committee in view of the urgency of such a committee. In the absence of the hearings committee, parliamentary hearings for Chief Justice nominee Deepak Raj Joshee have been stalled for a month. 

According to sources at the parliament secretariat, the ruling NCP will have seven members on the hearings committee, the main opposition NC will have three members and the FSFN and RJPN will have one member each from the lower house. 

NCP has recommended Yogesh Bhattarai, Surendara Pandey, Purna Kumari Subedi, Amrita Thapa, Niru Pal, Parbat Gurung and Shiva Kumar Mandal for appointment to the hearings committee. NC has recommended party whip Pushpa Bhusal, Gyanendra Bahadur Karki and Bhimsen Das Pradhan. FSFN has recommended Rajendra Shrestha . RJPN is yet to make a recommendation. Though some fringe parties are also demanding representation in the hearings committee, Mahara said they will be provided representation in other joint committees instead. 

Speaker warns he will appoint NC members to House panels
Speaker Mahara has said that he will unilaterally appoint lawmakers from the opposition NC to the various House committees if the opposition party declines to submit any names within the next few days. The NC has not submitted any names because it is unhappy over the number of committee chairmanships it is going to get.

“The issue of House committee heads can be raised even after the formation of the committees because such committees will be headed by their senior-most members until the election of the heads,” he said. “I once again urge the NC to submit its list at the earliest. But the House panels will be formed after a week even if they don’t recommend any names.”

NC will have six to seven members in each of the 10 committees at the lower house, as per the party’s strength in parliament.

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