Six months on, parties spar over House rulesSix months since the adoption of the new constitution, the Legislature-Parliament has been functioning under an interim regulation owing to a dispute among the major parties over the new rules.
Six months since the adoption of the new constitution, the Legislature-Parliament has been functioning under an interim regulation owing to a dispute among the major parties over the new rules.
On the surface, the disagreement is over the size of the Parliamentary Hearing Committee but bargaining for key positions between the ruling and the opposition parties is at the heart of the delay, sources claimed.
The Constitution of Nepal was promulgated on September 20 which automatically turned the Constituent Assembly into the Legislature-Parliament. The parliamentary Regulation Drafting Committee formed in October struggles to find consensus even as its deadline has been extended four times.
The 61-member committee, which has a majority of members from three major parties, is divided whether to continue with the 73-member Hearing Committee that existed before constitution promulgation or to reduce its size to 15-member as required by the new charter. The opposition, including the NC and some fringe parties, favours the old size of the committee claiming that the transitional period is not over.
The ruling parties cite Article 296, which authorises the current legislature to work in the capacity of the Federal Legislature until the elections are held, to argue that the Hearing Committee must follow the new provision. The opposition says the 15-member panel cannot represent the 31 parties in House and two independent MPs.
Lawmakers from the ruling parties accuse the NC of unnecessarily demanding the large panel in violation of the statute. They charge the NC with delaying the process in revenge for Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s decision to reject Ram Prasad Sitaula as a member of the Judicial Council. “In informal talks, even NC lawmakers agree their demand has no legal basis,” said UML lawmaker Rewati Raman Bhandari. UML MPs read the NC’s call for top leaders’ involvement to resolve the matter as its bargain for the JC post.
Rubbishing the allegations, NC lawmaker Nabindra Raj Joshi demanded that the UML clarify why Sitaula’s recommendation was rejected.
Drafting Committee coordinator Radheshyam Adhikari said he will expedite efforts at consensus from March 30, with an aim to finalise the draft by April 5. “A decision will be taken through vote if there is no consensus,” he said, adding that the regulation will be drafted before the new session of Parliament commences. The government is preparing to recommend that President Bidhya Devi Bhandari summon the House in the second week of April.
Babin Sharma, press advisor to Speaker Onsari Gharti, said her meeting with PM Oli would decide the date for convening the House.
As lawmakers have to be informed 15 days in advance, it is unlikely that Parliament will return to business before April 12, said an official from the Parliament Secretariat.