Crucial bills stuck in House for lack of quorum

Many lawmakers have gone to Province 2 for campaigning

Kathmandu, September 8

The Parliament could not pass two crucial bills — the Tharu Commission Bill and the Muslim Commission Bill — due to lack of quorum.

Nepal Workers and Peasants Party lawmaker Prem Suwal raised point of order thrice in the Parliament today, demanding that the number of lawmakers be counted.   On two occasions Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar found that the House lacked quorum. Only on one occasion more than 148 lawmakers were present in the House.

Suwal raised the quorum issue when Minister of Land Reform Gopal Dahit presented the Madhesi Commission Bill in the House for consideration. Parliament Secretariat officials rang the bell for three minutes before counting the number of lawmakers present. The speaker announced that only 136 members were present. Since the strength of the House is 591, 148 members (one fourth of the total number of lawmakers) need to be present to pass any bill or motion.

The speaker then adjourned the House for 15 minutes.

When the House met, Suwal again raised the issue of quorum. It was found that there were 157 members in the House and the Madhesi Commission Bill was passed.

A few minutes later when the Speaker proceeded to put the amendments made to the Tharu Commission Bill to vote, Suwal again raised the issue of quorum. This time only 127 lawmakers were present.

The speaker then adjourned the meeting for 15 minutes but the quorum was lacking when the House met, forcing the speaker to adjourn the meeting till 3:00pm on September 19.

The CPN-Maoist Centre’s Chief Whip Rekha Sharma said it was unfortunate that the two bills could not be passed due to lack of quorum, adding that the ruling parties should be serious about ensuring quorum in the House. She said the quorum was lacking because the third phase of local polls was around the corner. “Many lawmakers have gone to Province 2 for campaigning,” she said. Another reason was a long gap between two meetings of the Parliament, she added.

CPN-UML Chief Whip Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal said the ruling parties should be more careful about ensuring quorum in the Parliament. He said some of his party lawmakers were absent, as they were in Province 2 for election campaign. “Some lawmakers did not return from their home districts, as they thought the House would not meet for another four to five days after today.”