KATHMANDU, Dec 18: With only three days left for the commencement of the winter session of parliament, the secretariat of the House of Representatives is in a fix over who should call a meeting of the Business Advisory Committee (BAC), an all-party mechanism that finalizes the agenda for House meetings.
The confusion arises from parliamentary regulations that state that it is the speaker of the House of Representatives who should call the meeting of the BAC.
Rule 13 of the House of Representatives Regulations states that the speaker should chair the BAC meeting and appoint the members of the committee on the basis of the numerical strength of the political parties in parliament. The deputy speaker becomes ex-officio vice chair of such a committee, according to the regulations.
Dev Gurung, chief whip of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), said, “In the absence of a speaker there will be an informal meeting of the BAC to decide about House business until such time as a new speaker is elected.”
Following the resignation of Krishna Bahadur Mahara as speaker in October over allegations of attempted rape, the position has been lying vacant. Although Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe has been carrying out various tasks of speaker, this has been questioned and even challenged in court. Parliamentary regulations do not depute the responsibilities of speaker, except the chairing of House meetings, to the deputy speaker.
Tumbahamphe had also planned to call the meeting of the BAC but backtracked after NCP leaders reminded her about the provisions of the House regulations. “The deputy speaker can call an informal meeting of the BAC but not a formal one,” Chief Whip Gurung said.
President Bidya Bhandari has summoned the winter session of parliament for December 20. According to party leaders, an informal meeting of the BAC will be held earlier on the same day.
The first task of the parliamentary session will be to elect the speaker and deputy speaker of the lower house as Tumbahamphe is planning to resign from her post before the election of the new speaker.
As the constitution bars the same political party from occupying the posts of both speaker and deputy speaker, the NCP has asked the incumbent deputy speaker to step down and clear the way for the party to put someone of its choice in the post of speaker.