House lacks business even as constitution needs dozens of lawsOnly 111 laws among the 151 necessary to implement the statute are in place, upper chamber study shows.
While the country still lacks dozens of Acts to fully implement the constitution promulgated eight years ago, the federal parliament has been without business due to the government’s indifference to registering necessary bills.
For lack of bills to discuss, House proceedings are now limited to conducting special and zero-hour sessions, along with question-answer sessions with ministers. The House of Representatives on Thursday is also scheduled to have a question-answer session with a few ministers.
As per the records from the Parliament Secretariat, 16 bills have been registered jointly in the House and the National Assembly. Some have been pending in the upper chamber for the last four years. Of them, 11 are under consideration in various House committees while one, after theoretical discussion in the House, awaits the registration of amendments by lawmakers. Four more have yet to enter the parliamentary process for the deliberations and endorsement.
“Parliament lacks necessary business because there are no adequate bills to discuss,” Ek Ram Giri, spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat, told the Post. “Despite pledges, the government has not registered necessary bills. It is the government that gives Parliament its business.”
Giri said the government hasn’t shown urgency in preparing the bills even as the National Assembly specifically pointed out the absence of several laws necessary for the constitution’s implementation.
A study by the Legislation Management Committee of the Assembly shows only 111 laws among the 151 needed to implement the constitution promulgated in 2015 have so far been enacted. Still, 40 Acts need either significant amendments or replacement with new ones to bring them in sync with the statute.
As per the study, the three tiers of government had to either amend or replace a total of 181 Acts necessary to fully implement the charter. Of them, 151 come under the jurisdiction of the federal government, 24 under the provinces and six under the local level.
The constitution had set two deadlines to prepare laws for its implementation. It was mandatory to pass laws related to fundamental rights within three years of the charter’s promulgation. The federal parliament endorsed the bills related to 31 fundamental rights a day before the constitutional deadline of September 19, 2018.
As per the statute, the Acts that contradict the constitution must have been revised within a year since the first meeting of the federal parliament on March 5, 2018. However, the House committee’s report suggests successive governments didn’t abide by the mandatory deadline.
“Parliament has turned ineffective because the government is indifferent to providing business. We need dozens of laws to implement the constitution fully but the government is reluctant to draft the bills,” Santosh Pariyar, chief whip of the Rastriya Swatantra Party, told the Post. “We have been raising the issue repeatedly. However, the government is refusing to act.”
Ever since the commencement of the first House meeting in January, the federal parliament has endorsed only the law criminalising usury and three bills related to the budget.
Though the prime minister and ministers claim that the government has readied the bills for the Federal Civil Service Act and the Federal Education Act, they are yet to land in Parliament. The provincial governments have not been able to hire civil servants due to the lack of federal law. Similarly, the local governments have been deprived of their constitutional authority to manage school education without the Federal Education Act.
In addition to the Acts on civil service and education, laws related to health, citizenship and the authority of the President and Vice President, which are must for the constitution to come into force effectively, have also not been promulgated, the House committee had pointed out in its report.
The upper house has owned the report and has asked the government to draft the necessary bills without any further delay. Responding to the concerns from the lawmakers on the delay in having the needed Acts, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Monday said, “The government is committed and working in preparing the remaining laws to implement the constitution.”