Nepal | January 18, 2021

President reissues controversial ordinance

Ram Kumar Kamat
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KATHMANDU, DECEMBER 15

  • She had issued the same ordinance amending Constitution Council Act in April as well
  • It had to be rescinded after four days
  • Appointments made under it can’t be revoked by HoR

President Bidhya Devi Bhandari, on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, issued the Constitutional Council (Functions, Duties, Powers and Procedures) Act, First Amendment Ordinance, amending the act’s provision to allow the Constitutional Council to conduct its meetings when majority members of the council are present.

The government brought the new ordinance to amend Section 6 (3) of the act that stipulated that quorum for the council could be achieved only when chairperson and four other members were present in the meeting.

The ordinance says that the council shall take decisions on the basis of consensus, but if consensus is not reached then on the basis of votes of majority members.

Constitutional Council meeting in progress in Kathmandu on Tuesday. The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and attended by Chief Justice Cholendra SJB Rana and National Assembly Chairperson Ganesh Prasad Timilsina. Photo: RSS

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who had called a meeting of the Constitutional Council in the morning, had to postpone it till 5:00pm today after Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota did not show up. The PM had called the Constitutional Council meeting on Sunday also, but he had to postpone it as Deuba and Sapkota expressed inability to attend the meeting.

In the evening, the Constitutional Council discussed appointments in multiple constitutional bodies, according to National Assembly Chairperson Ganesh Prasad Timilsina’s Communication Expert Ashok Paudel.

A minister told THT that the PM recommended the ordinance to the president without discussing it in the Cabinet meeting today.

Constitutional expert Bhimarjun Acharya said the new ordinance would enable the Constitutional Council to achieve quorum if three members, including the chairperson, attended the CC meeting, and they could take a decision with consent of just two members. “This ordinance has sabotaged the validity of the Constitutional Council.

The government cannot justify its decision to issue the ordinance because a new session of the Parliament has to be convened after a few days,” he added.

Acharya said even if the Parliament rejected the new ordinance, the new appointments that could be made on the basis of the ordinance would remain valid. “Appointments made on the basis of the new ordinance can be repealed only with a court order,” he added. He said the president’s role was controversial because she had issued the same ordinance in April before rescinding it after four days.

The council is chaired by the prime minister, with chief justice, speaker, deputy speaker, national assembly chair and leader of the opposition as its members.

The council meeting had to be adjourned several times in the recent past due to lack of quorum.

The president had issued ordinance in April to remove the consensus clause from the Constitutional Council Act, but she had to rescind it after the government’s position on the ordinance became untenable.

The government had also brought an ordinance to amend the Political Party Act allowing the parties’ dissidents to split their mother party with the support of 40 per cent members of the Central Committee or Parliamentary Party, but the president had to rescind that as well.

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A version of this article appears in print on December 16, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.


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