House rejects Assembly’s decision to scrap administrative court, inviting conflictThe two houses of federal parliament are at loggerheads for the second time
With the House of Representatives refusing to accept the provision of scrapping administrative court that was endorsed by the National Assembly, a conflict has surfaced between the two houses of federal parliament.
On Tuesday, a meeting of the parliamentary Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee rejected the provision of having an administrative bench at each High Court instead of an administrative court in Kathmandu. The committee of the lower house had revived the proposal of the government to have a powerful administrative court in Kathmandu, which was rejected by the upper house.
The National Assembly had endorsed its Legislative Management Committee’s decision to reject the government’s proposal to establish a powerful administrative court in Kathmandu. An administrative court led by Kashiraj Dahal is already in place here. Anxious with the NA’s decision, chairman of the Administrative Court, Dahal had been lobbying for reviving the court.
The upper house committee, however, had decided to place an administrative bench at the High Courts of all the provinces instead of a separate court in the Capital claiming that it would make it difficult for civil servants outside the Valley to file cases.
The rejection of the Assembly’s decision by the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee of the lower house, some lawmakers say, could lead to a confrontation between the two Houses.
“If the National Assembly refused to accept the decision of the lower house, it could lead to a confrontation,” said Ram Narayan Bidari, a lawmaker from the upper house, who represents ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
Asked how the NA lawmakers are taking the rejection of its decision Bidari said he was not aware. “It depends on how individual lawmakers would take the decision.”
Now with the change in the provisions that it had endorsed, the bill now must be taken to the Assembly for endorsement. If members of the National Assembly took the issue as an offence, it would be the first case that leads the federal parliament to form a joint panel to resolve the issue.
“If the NA refused to accept the change, a joint meeting of the Houses would discuss the issue and a joint panel could also be formed to resolve it,” said Brikhesh Chandra Lal, an Assembly member from the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal.
Given that the ruling party has a majority in both the Houses, Lal said the communist party could endorse the bill through a majority if it wanted.
A number of National Assembly members said the lower house committee could have been influenced by the lobbying of those who benefit from the administrative court and leaders who wish to serve their interests by appointing their people.
However, the lower house members said they have only corrected the NA’s decision instead of opposing it. “We wanted an administrative court in each of the seven provinces that would reduce the pressure of cases,” said Umashankar Argariya, a lower house member from the Samajbadi Party Nepal.
This is not the first time that a conflict between the two Houses has emerged. In May, claiming that the National Assembly failed to return the bill within its deadline of two months, the House of Representatives had sent the Passport Bill to the President for authentication while a committee of the Assembly was discussing it.
The move had sparked controversy as members of the Assembly had vehemently criticised the act claiming that laws cannot be endorsed bypassing the upper house.
On May 22, President Bidya Devi Bhandari returned the bill to the federal parliament without authentication, requesting a review of its provision that could restrict citizens from getting a passport. The president’s office had cited “unclear provisions over the issuance and usage of different types of passports” as the reason for sending the bill back. This had caused confusion among the authorities on how to move ahead with the bill.
Since that was the first time the President had ever sent a bill back without authentication, the House of Representatives has tabled the bill after a few months.
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