Marginalised community commissions say they don’t have resources to fulfill their mandateParliamentary committee asks government to ensure that the constitutional bodies get the needed budget to implement their plans.
Various constitutional bodies formed to advocate for the rights of the marginalised and the deprived don’t have the resources to carry out their mandate, chairpersons from the commissions said on Thursday, more than 18 months after their appointment.
The government has neither appointed other members of the commissions nor given them adequate staffers, said the chairpersons complaining that the government doesn’t allocate enough budget for their programmes.
“The chairperson alone can’t fulfill the commission’s mandate. We need a full team to do our work full-fledgedly,” Bishnu Prasad Chaudhary, chairperson of the Tharu Commission told lawmakers from the Women, Children and Social Affairs Committee.
In January last year, the Constitutional Council had recommended chairpersons for four of the seven “inclusion commissions” envisaged by the constitution. Though the Madhesi, Tharu, Muslim and Inclusive Commissions have their chairpersons, the government is yet to appoint four members to each of the commissions. Similarly, it is yet to appoint chairs to the women and indigenous nationalities commissions.
The law states that the commissions can take policy decisions only through a meeting of the chair and the four members
Apart from the National Human Rights Commission, the seven other commissions formed to advocate for the rights of marginalised and deprived communities have a mandate of 10 years. But even as around five years have already passed since the promulgation of the constitution, none of the commissions has an office of its own.
The government is reluctant to allocate adequate budget for the commission, said Samim Miya Ansari, chairperson of the Muslim Commission at the meeting convened by the committee. The Muslim Commission had come up with a plan to bring people from marginalised communities to theeconomic, political, social and educational mainstream. It also had plans to manage and monitor madrasas. But due to lack of adequate budget, everything has been put on hold, said Ansari.
The Tharu Commission’s plan was to study the situation of the freed bonded labourers. But the plan now looks uncertain due to lack of budget.
The constitutional council, which is led by the prime minister and includes the leader of the main opposition, is the body that selects chairpersons and commissioners for the constitutional bodies. The prime minister has the direct authority to convene a meeting of the council and appoint office-bearers. The meeting, however, has not been held since March 25 last year when Dinesh Thapaliya was picked as chief election commissioner.
After hearing complaints from the chairpersons, the parliamentary committee drew the attention of the Ministry of Finance to ensure that the commissions get the needed budget to implement their programmes.
During the meeting, lawmakers said the Tharu commission should coordinate a scientific study into the sickle-cell anemia particularly seen in the people from the Tharu Community.
Lawmakers from various parties, who presented their views during the deliberation, said that as the commissions have limited time, the constitutional council should pick the remaining chairpersons and members at the earliest.
Article 265 of the constitution empowers Parliament to review progress made by the commissions, 10 years after the commencement of the constitution. Parliament can also extend their terms if it deems necessary.
Analysts say that appointments to the commissions have not been made largely due to the failure of political parties’ to reach a consensus on the issue. The government in April introduced an amendment to the Constitutional Council Act that could allow Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, as a chair of the council to have upper hand in the recommendation. It, however, was repealed following widespread criticism.