KATHMANDU, June 20: With the endorsement of the new parliamentary regulations on Sunday, Parliament has paved the way for initiating parliamentary confirmation hearings for the proposed chief justice, the chief election commissioner, 11 other justices and 22 ambassadors, which have remained pending for long now.
After eight months of haggling, the two largest political parties - Nepali Congress and CPN-UML - finally agreed on Sunday to form a 15-member parliamentary hearings committee and the House the same day endorsed the parliamentary regulations through a majority vote. Lawmakers from a few fringe parties voted against the proposal.
Following an understanding reached between Prime Minister KP Oli and NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba on Saturday, NC lawmaker Ananda Dhungana withdrew an amendment proposal he had registered demanding continuity for the existing 75-member hearings committee.
NC leaders claimed that the UML has also agreed to continue with NC leader Kul Bahadur Gurung as chairman of the hearings committee in addition to including six members (including the chairman) from NC on the committee. Gurung, Anand Dhungana, Chinkaji Shrestha, Chitra Lekha Yadav, Bal Krsihna Khand and Prakash Sharan Mahat were appointed committee members from NC Sunday. Similarly, Ganeshman Gurung, Asta Laxmi Shakya, Bhanubhakta Dhakal and Dharma Nath Shah from UML and Hitraj Pandey and Anita Pariyar from CPN (Maoist Center) have been appointed to the committee.
Shailendra Bantawa from RPPN-N and Yogendra Chaudhary from MJF-Loktantrik were also appointed committee members. One membership of the 15-member committee remains vacant. It is reported that the vacant post will be filled by an individual representing the Madhes-based political parties.
Speaker Onsari Gharti hailed the agreement between the ruling and opposition parties as a responsible step by the major political parties. “Major political parties have unanimously agreed to endorse the regulations at the last hour after finally waking up to their responsibilities. I am happy to see such unity,” Gharti told media persons after the House meeting.
Gharti has convened the first meeting of the hearings committee for Monday morning to discuss the election process for the committee chairman and other working procedures.
Following a dispute between the ruling and main opposition parties over the size of the hearings committee, the parliamentary regulations have been delayed for eight months.
Though the House had formed a committee on October 13, 2015 and tasked it with drafting the regulations, the committee failed to prepare any draft for seven months.
Endorsement of the parliamentary regulations has paved the way for hearings on appointments to the apex court, the election commission and Nepal's embassies in various countries. The recommendations for the appointment of Sushila Karki as chief justice and of 11 other justices, of Aayodhi Yadav as chief election commissioner and 22 ambassadors have been pending due to the absence of a hearings committee.
Article 292 of the new Constitution has provisioned a 15-member parliamentary hearings special committee with representatives from both the National Assembly and the House of Representatives.
The new parliamentary regulations state that any recommendations for hearings can be rejected through a two-thirds majority of the 15-member hearings committee.