KATHMANDU, May 6: Going against the past practice of suspending any lawmaker immediately after he or she is accused of a crime in a court, lawmakers on Saturday endorsed the provision of not suspending such lawmakers. Such members of parliament (MPs), according to a new parliamentary regulation, will remain in position until and unless the court convicts them of the crime they are accused of.
A meeting of parliament's Regulations Drafting Committee on Saturday decided to this effect. Any lawmaker facing a criminal charge in a court of law will, however, not enjoy any state privilege. Nor will he or she be allowed to use the logo of parliament once the charge-sheet is filed against him or her in a court.
The provision of the regulation contradicts the existing criminal justice system. As per the law, government officials facing criminal or corruption charges in a court get suspended immediately after the charges are filed against them at the court. The previous parliamentary regulation had a provision to suspended the lawmakers as well if they face a criminal charge in a court. Under this provision, lawmakers Gayatri Shah and BP Shah were suspended from their positions after they were accused of misusing their red passports. Another UML lawmaker DB Karki was also suspended after he was caught receiving a bribe.
Parties represented in parliament were divided over whether to suspend MPs who are arrested and taken to court in a criminal charge. Nepali Congress and Madhes-based parties were for not suspending such lawmakers.
Resham Chaudhary of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal has been accused of masterminding the killing of police officials and locals during a protest in Kailali's Tikapur in 2015. UML backed provincial member Deepak Manage has been convicted of murder.
Although Silwal took the oath of office and secrecy following protection from his party leaders, Chaudhary and Manange are still deprived of taking the oath of office.
The CPN (Maoist Center) was silent on the issue while the UML wanted to continue the previous provision of suspending any of parliamentarian accused of a crime in a court. The discussion on the parliamentary regulation started on March 19 but it took weeks to resolve the issue.
"We finally chose this amicable solution as we had to settle the dispute," said Regulation Drafting Committee Coordinator Krishna Bhakta Pokharel.
Rastriya Janata Party Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna, who is also a member of the Regulation Drafting Committee, said their demand to provide state privileges to a lawmaker accused of a crime was rejected. "We did our bit for the continuation of state privileges facilities to lawmakers even if they are accused of a crime but it went in a vain as other parties did not support us," said Karna.
The deadline given for finalizing the regulation of parliament expired on Saturday. Lawmakers are scheduled to present the regulation at the budget session of parliament scheduled to start on Monday.