Opposition continues to stall HoR proceedings

Kathmandu, July 31

Proceedings of the House of Representatives continue to remain stalled for more than three weeks now, with ruling party reluctant to heed the opposition’s demand of forming a parliamentary panel to investigative two alleged cases of extra-judicial killings in Sarlahi district.

Sarlahi district in-charge of the Netra Bikram Chand led-group Kumar Paudel was killed in an alleged encounter with police on June 20, and Saroj Narayan Singh of Ishwarpur Municipality was killed during police firing in a protest on the East-West Highway on June 30.

As soon as the House proceedings began today, lawmakers from the main opposition Nepali Congress and Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal rose from their chairs to stall its proceedings, but Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara ignored their protest and continued with House proceedings, following which the opposition lawmakers swarmed the HoR well.

Mahara repeatedly tried to pacify the opposition lawmakers, but they continued with sloganeering disrupting the House proceedings. The lawmakers also demanded that the Girish Chandra Lal Commission report on killings during the Madhes movement of 2015-16 be made public.

Mahara then postponed the meeting till 2:00pm tomorrow. He has called an all-party meeting tomorrow morning.

RJP-N Lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna said they would continue to obstruct the House until the government formed the probe panel and made public the Lal Commission report.  “I am wondering why the government is scared of a parliamentary panel that will also have representative from the ruling party,” he told THT. NC Chief Whip Bal Krishna Khand said Speaker Mahara should facilitate formation of the probe commission acting as a mediator. “Unfortunately, the speaker has been promoting the ruling party by ignoring the opposition,” said. The ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is of the view that there is no need to form a Parliamentary panel to probe into the killings.

A 14-point agreement had already been reached in the case of Singh’s death and the Parliamentary State Affairs and Good Governance Committee was studying Paudel’s killing, according to NCP Chief Whip Dev Gurung.    “So formation of a panel to probe Singh’s death has been ruled out. As far as Paudel’s death is concerned, a thematic parliamentary panel is already studying it. So forming one more House panel is not coherent with the parliamentary practice,” Gurung told THT, adding that House obstruction for an extended period would prove detrimental to the parliamentary system.

Karna, however, said there was a difference between thematic committee and parliamentary probe committee. “The State Affairs Committee is not probing the incidents. It only discussed the issue,” he said.  Observers said obstruction of House for a long time was not desirable, and both the ruling and opposition parties should work towards ending the stalemate. Former Speaker Daman Nath Dhungana said the government should assure the opposition in resolving the issues during Business Advisory Committee meeting, while the opposition should not disrupt House indefinitely.

“Tensions surface in the parliament, but such tensions should be eased using parliamentary instrument, that is Business Advisory Committee where the speaker should take the lead,” he said. “But the speaker, the government and the ruling party seem to be avoiding a dialogue with the opposition,” he added. Both the ruling and opposition parties should have uniform opinion when it came to the issue of human rights violation, according to Dhungana.