Dispute over forming panel to investigate Tarai deaths obstructs House, againSpeaker Mahara feels trapped by the positions taken by the ruling and opposition MPs, his advisors says.
The meeting of the House of Representatives was obstructed yet again on Monday as the ruling and opposition parties remained adamant on their positions for and against forming a parliamentary probe panel to investigate the two incidents of death in the Tarai last month.
The Nepali Congress and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal have been demanding that a parliamentary committee is formed to investigate the deaths of Kumar Paudel, the Sarlahi district chief of the banned Communist Party of Nepal led by Netra Bikram Chand, and Saroj Narayan Mahato, another Sarlahi local, in police action. The ruling Nepal Communist Party, however, say that forming a parliamentary committee would set a precedent which would lead to setting up of House committees in every such case.
The communist party also argues that as the State Affairs Committee of the Parliament is studying the matter, it is unjustifiable to demand a separate committee. “The oppositions have demonstrated unparliamentary attitude. They are making a fuss about a non-issue,” Bhim Rawal, a communist party leader, told the media after the Lower House meeting was obstructed.
Following the directives from the State Affairs Committee, the Ministry of Home Affairs formed a study team led by an under-secretary at the ministry. The report submitted to the State Affairs Committee on July 10 said Paudel was killed in a police encounter. However, no study has been launched on Mahato’s death. The opposition is saying the government’s report is not reliable as Paudel’s hands and legs were found broken.
The Nepali Congress leaders also say as there have been practices of forming such committees in the past, the ruling party’s argument about a precedent being set doesn’t hold ground. “It is the duty of the government to furnish clarifications when there are suspicions on sensitive issues like death. We will continue our demonstration unless the probe panel is formed,” Pushpa Bhusal, Nepali Congress whip, told the Post.
Former officials at the Parliament Secretariat, who have a close understanding of the House proceedings, say as the matter has become an issue of ego for both sides, a middle path should be opted to resolve the matter.
Mukunda Sharma, a former secretary at the secretariat, said as the State Affairs Committee is the authorised thematic committee to look into such matters, Parliament can direct it to launch investigations.
“Formation of a parliamentary probe panel is costly and time-consuming. It is the best to mobilise the thematic committees,” he told the Post.
He said the Speaker can take an initiative to bring the concerned parties together into the matter.
The aides to Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara, however, say he is trapped by the adamancy of the opposition and ruling parties. Mahara, prior to the House meeting on Monday, had consulted with the chief-whips and whips of both sides; however, his attempts failed.
“The Speaker also has communicated to the top leadership from the ruling and main opposition parties to resolve the issues and allow House perform its duty,” Dilli Malla, press advisor to Mahara, told the Post.