If the Parliamentary Hearing Committee cannot conduct a hearing for 45 days, then the nominees are automatically appointed to the designated posts


Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota today returned the original files of the Constitutional Council that had requested the Parliament Secretariat to conduct parliamentary hearings for the office bearers of 11 constitutional bodies. The Constitutional Council had sent the names of the nominees to the Parliament Secretariat on December 20 when the House of Representatives was dissolved.

Recommendations for appointments were made on December 15 when the government brought an ordinance to amend the Constitutional Council Act. The council met the same day to make the recommendations.

This amendment allows the Constitutional Council to hold its meeting when majority members of the council are present and to take decision on the basis of votes of majority members if consensus is not reached.

Before the amendment, the quorum for the council could be achieved only when the chairperson and four other members were present in the meeting. The prime minister is the chairperson of the council, while the speaker, deputy speaker, the leader of the opposition, chief justice and National Assembly chairperson are the other members.

The speaker stated in his letter that parliamentary hearings could not be conducted as the HoR had been dissolved by the government.

He said the recommendations were against constitutional provisions and the Supreme Court's precedents since office bearers for 11 constitutional bodies were recommended on December 15 when the council meeting could not be held due to lack of quorum and the government brought a new ordinance to amend the Constitutional Council Act. Sapkota said he was not informed about the Constitutional Council meeting on December 15.

He added that the government issued the same ordinance that it had withdrawn in April.

The Constitutional Council had recommended names for 11 constitutional bodies, including the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, Election Commission, National Human Rights Commission, Madhesi Commission, National Women Commission, National Dalit Commission and Tharu Commission.

The Parliament Secretariat issued a press release stating that the speaker exercised his inherent power and returned original files to the Constitutional Council as the council sent the letter containing names of nominees for appointment to constitutional bodies in the afternoon of December 20, whereas the Cabinet had already decided to dissolve the HoR in the morning.

The secretariat said that the speaker returned the files to the Constitutional Council as the ordinance on the basis of which the recommendations for appointment were made was issued violating the constitution and the constitutional values and norms.

The secretariat said that in the past also, the speaker had returned the names of the nominees to the council when there was no Parliamentary Hearing Committee.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe said that as per joint meetings of the Federal Parliament and Joint Committees (Operation) Regulations, if the Parliamentary Hearing Committee could not conduct a hearing for 45 days, then the nominees were automatically appointed to the designated posts.

She said the government would follow the rule and appoint those nominees to the designated posts after 45 days.

Secretary at the Parliament Secretariat Gopalnath Yogi said that Rule 26 of Joint Meetings of the Federal Parliament and Joint Committees (Operation) Regulations stipulated that the 45 days' rule would apply only when the Parliamentary Hearing Committee duly received notification for conducting hearings for the nominees. He said since on December 20 the Constitutional Council registered the letter with the recommended names at 2:15 pm and the President's Office issued a press release at 2:21pm notifying the public about the dissolution of the HoR, the council's letter could not be deemed to have been sent to the Parliamentary Hearing Committee.

Yogi said sending a letter to the Parliament Secretariat, a permanent body, and sending a letter to a parliamentary committee were two different things. Yogi said he did not think that the government would abide by the rules if it proceeded to appoint the nominees after 45 days.

A version of this article appears in the print on February 1, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.