KATHMANDU, March 10: The way has been cleared for the appointment of Samim Miya Ansari as chairperson of the National Muslim Commission even without confirmation of his nomination by the Parliamentary Hearings Committee (PHC).
Due to divisions within the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and differences with coalition partner Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), the parliamentary panel failed to take any decision on Ansari for 45 days.
Under the regulations of parliament , failure by the PHC to take any decision on the confirmation of a nomination even 45 days after receiving the nomination letter means the person nominated will automatically become eligible for the position in question.
Saturday was the deadline for the PHC to take a decision on Ansari's confirmation as the Constitutional Council had delivered the nomination letter to the committee on January 24, three days after its decision to nominate him.
“The way has been cleared for Ansari's appointment as the PHC couldn't make any decision within the given time,” PHC Chairperson Laxman Lal Karna told Republica on Saturday.
“The reason behind the indecision and delay was that while most of the committee members were for rejecting Ansari they failed to garner the necessary two-third majority needed to do so .”
Key NCP leaders on the committee were for rejecting Ansari because of controversy over his date of birth and his affiliation with a political party. Acting on complaints registered at the PHC, it had sought information from the District Administration Office and the Election Commission about Ansari's date of birth in his citizenship papers and his party affiliation.
He was a member of the NCP at the time of his nomination. He was also an election candidate from the party under the proportional representation (PR) category , according to the EC. But the district administration gave him a clean cheat on over date of birth, citing an error in the official records.
NCP General Secretary Bishnu Paudel had written to the EC to withdraw Ansari's name from the PR candidacy list only after the PHC investigations started. According to the law concerning the Muslim Commission, a member of any political party will not be ineligible for appointment as chief or member of the commission. But Ansari argued that this law was applicable only at the time of appointment and his appointment was yet to be confirmed through the PHC hearings.
After Ansari's grilling by the PHC, lawmakers opposed to his appointment suggested he back away from the nomination while those in favor demanded further investigations to buy more time . After ruling party ally FSFN member Rajendra Shrestha stayed away from the hearings committee meeting in recent weeks citing discontent with the prime minister over the selection of commission chiefs, the NCP members on the committee fell one member short of the two-third majority needed to reject Ansari.
Parliamentary regulations state that the PHC shall reject a nomination only through a two-third majority. The NCP has only nine members on the 15-member committee. Also, four members from the Nepali Congress (NC) boycotted the hearings process to protest the prime minister's taking nomination decisions without the participation of the NC president.
NCP lawmakers including Yogesh Bhattarai, Surendra Pandey, Purna Kumari Subedi, Amrita Thapa and Shiva Kumar Mandal were for rejecting Ansari through the hearings committee. Niru Pal, Suman Raj Pyakurel, Parbat Gurung and Nanda Chapai appeared neutral.