KATHMANDU, Nov 14: Prime Minister KP Oli is planning to fill the longstanding vacancies at various constitutional bodies immediately after the by-elections, which are scheduled for November 30.
Although the prime minister convened the Constitutional Council (CC) meeting on Wednesday to discuss filling the vacancies, the meeting ended without making any decision when the members reminded the prime minister of the election code of conduct, which are already in effect, that bar any appointments.
A senior leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) said that the council will recommend the heads and members in all vacant constitutional bodies immediately after the November 30 by-polls.
Deputy Speaker and member of the CC, Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe said that the meeting was canceled due to busy schedule of the leaders. “Some members of the council had to attend bilateral meeting with visiting Bangladeshi president. So the meeting of the council was put off without entering the agenda,” said Tumbahamphe after the meeting.
At least three constitutional commissions have been lying vacant for over two years now. Similarly one constitutional commission is headless and more than two members are vacant in six other constitutional bodies.
Two member positions each are vacant at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) and Election Commission while the National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission and Madhesi, Tharu and Muslim commissions don't have even a single member since their formation under the new constitution promulgated in 2015.
Currently headed by bureaucrats, the statutory commissions -- National Dalit Commission, National Women's Commission and Indigenous Nationalities Commission — are unable to issue any directives or make recommendations to the government on important issues.
Article 284 of the constitution has a mandatory provision requiring initiation of the appointments process at the constitutional bodies prior to the expiry of the terms of the incumbents and making appointments immediately after the positions fall vacant.
“The CC must make a recommendation for appointment under this constitution before one month of the vacation of the office of the Chief Justice or the chief or official of a constitutional body,” reads Clause 3 of Article 284.
Clause 4 of the same article further says that 'if such office falls vacant because of death or resignation, it may so make a recommendation for appointment that the office is filled within a month after the date of vacancy.'
Following pressure from stakeholder groups, the CC solicited applications from candidates for the posts of heads and members of the seven various constitutional commissions in August last year. But the government appointed only the heads in four commissions and a member in one, leaving three commissions without heads or members. After the head of Inclusive Commission, Shanta Raj Subedi, resigned in July, the commission has only a member but no head.
As per the constitution, candidates recommended by the CC for appointment in the constitutional bodies need to undergo parliamentary hearings prior to their appointment by the president.
The chief justice, the speaker and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, the chairperson of the National Assembly, and the leader of the main opposition party in the lower house are members of the CC.