Govt in dilemma over urgent bills

Kathmandu November 3

The federal government, which has lately come under fire for not providing umbrella laws to the provinces, is grappling with a dilemma — should it enact those laws or bring ordinances.

The federal government felt the heat after Province 2 passed its own police bill before the Parliament could pass an umbrella Police bill.

Federal government sources said the government had directed line ministries to prepare urgent bills and ordinances simultaneously so that either could be used to address the concerns of the provinces.

Surya Subedi, political adviser to  Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa, said the ministry had registered a federal police bill in the Parliament and also prepared a  draft of the police ordinance with similar contents as the bill. “The ministry is  ready for either of the options: passing the bill through the Parliament or bringing an ordinance,” Subedi told The Himalayan Times.

The federal government’s argument is that provincial governments can’t implement laws related to policing without a federal Police Act. The police, investigation bureau and prisons in the provinces are still under the federal home ministry. This has impeded provincial internal affairs and law ministries from doing their job.

“We have adopted the federal system but the federal government has not handed over some key powers to the provinces yet,” the internal affairs and law minister of a province told THT. According to him, most federal ministries have already handed over powers to the provinces, but the federal Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Communications and Information Technology have not. According to Subedi, the home ministry is ready to hand over power to the provinces but is unable to do so due to lack of new laws.

The federal government is also planning to bring the civil servants adjustment bill through an ordinance to address the problem of staff crunch in the provinces. As per rule, the government needs to bring a new bill to amend more than 40 per cent content of an existing act, which is the case now.

The new Civil Servants Act and regulations were formulated last year, but the government is bringing new civil servants adjustment bill without fully implementing the new act because a large number of government employees deployed to the provinces and local levels have not reported for duty.

According to the Parliament Secretariat, there are only seven bills, including the federal police bill, under consideration of the Parliament. The government will also have to amend some laws that contradict the constitution by March 5.

According to a Parliament Secretariat source, Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara wants the new session of Parliament to be called right after Chhath festival to pass urgent bills. He is against the idea of bringing ordinances.

“The Speaker has been telling the prime minister, law minister and other ministers concerned to prepare the urgent bills before the new session of the Parliament, sources said.

Spokesperson for Parliament Secretariat Rojnath Pandey said, “We are ready to start the new session of Parliament after Chhath.”

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s Chief Adviser Bishnu Rimal told THT, “The federal government cannot evade the Parliament. The government will call the new session of Parliament soon, and if necessary, it will also bring ordinances,” he added. According to him, the line ministries are preparing the urgent bills. “The government will follow the theory of necessity.” he said.