Nepal | July 20, 2019

PS in dilemma over ‘unparliamentary words’

Jagdishor Panday

Kathmandu, May 18

The Parliament Secretariat has been facing a tough time identifying ‘unparliamentary words’ reportedly used by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Nepali Congress lawmakers while addressing a meeting of the House of Representatives on May 7.

On May 10, Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara had directed the PS to delete the ‘unparliamentary words’ used by PM Oli and other lawmakers during discussion on the policies and programmes of the government.

For the first time in the history of parliamentary practice in Nepal, Speaker Mahara had directed the House to delete the ‘unparliamentary words’ used by the incumbent PM.

Unlike in the past, he, however, didn’t specify any words that the PS could remove from the record.

After the speaker’s ruling, the Business Advisory Committee wrote to the Audio/Video Recording Department of the PS for the collection of those ‘unparliamentary words.’ Spokesperson for the PS Rojnath Pandey said the department should forward a list of the ‘unparliamentary words’ to the speaker for his final approval.

“The speaker shall take a final call on the words that have to be removed from the recordings,” he said, referring to a provision of the HoR regulations.

The HoR regulations only state that a lawmaker should not use ‘unparliamentary words.’ However, the regulations have no provision for differentiating ‘parliamentary’ and ‘unparliamentary words,’ according to PS officials.

Tensions had flared between lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties during the House session on May 7 after PM Oli said he would not respond to parliamentarians’ queries ‘that were petty and motivated by resentment and frustration.’ The PM’s statement had offended many NC lawmakers.

They were especially enraged over the use of the word ‘petty’. NC lawmakers, including their President Sher Bahadur Deuba, objected to the use of the word ‘petty’ by the PM in the session and requested the speaker to exclude it from the recording, stating that the way the word ‘petty’ was used in the parliament was offensive and unethical.

NC hopes that the word ‘petty’ used by PM Oli will be excluded from the recording.

But, the PS officials told THT that ‘petty’ meant ‘little, lesser or of minor importance,’ and that there were far more offensive words that have been used in Parliament meetings for long.

“There are no criteria to measure which words are parliamentary and which are unparliamentary. The speaker’s ruling is unclear,” a PS official said on condition of anonymity.

The Audio/Video Recording Division of the PS is now going through recordings of the second session of the Parliament meeting. The division will go through recordings of the fourth session of the Parliament only after completing the second and third sessions of the House meetings.

“We are going to collect the words spoken by PM Oli and NC lawmakers in that meeting and send it to the speaker,” the PS official told THT.

A version of this article appears in print on May 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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