HoR disagrees with NA on amended bill

Kathmandu, January 16

Members of the House of Representatives panel which discussed a bill related to the constitution, powers and procedures of Administrative Court expressed disagreement with the National Assembly’s decision to replace the bill’s content that stated ‘formation of administrative court’ with the phrase ‘formation of the administrative bench in high courts.’

The National Assembly recently passed the bill by changing the original content of the bill stating that ‘administrative benches shall be formed in all seven high courts’.

A member  of the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee of the HoR told mediapersons after the panel’s  meeting that if they had to change the bill’s content from ‘formation of administrative court’ to ‘formation of administrative benches’ then there would be no need for the bill. He said amendment to Judicial Administrative Act would be enough to form administrative benches in the high courts and in that case, the Parliament would not need to enact a separate law to form administrative court.

Chair of the Law, Justice and Human Rights Committee Krishna Bhakta Pokharel said the panel would have to discuss the bill to forge consensus on the issue. HoR panel members said if they did not agree with the NA’s decision on forming administrative benches in high courts, then they would have to send the bill back to the upper House and the endorsement of the bill should be done through a joint sitting of the Parliament. If this happens, it will be a new parliamentary practice in the country.

A lawyer said that the Supreme Court had observed that there should be a separate and autonomous administrative court to look into administrative cases. Article 152 (1) of the constitution provides for the constitution of administrative court.

Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal said that although experts had suggested forming separate administrative court, he believed that formation of administrative benches in high courts would reduce human resources and financial burden.

The HoR panel discussed the bill today but could not reach conclusion. The panel decided to consult experts and judges on the bill before taking a final call. The  bill that the NA has passed, states that there will be two High Court Judges and one expert, who has served as a government secretary for three years or who has spent 20 years in the government administrative service, as  members of the administrative bench.

Some experts have argued that as the Administrative Court will have more jurisdiction now, this court should be established in other parts of the country as well.

Jurists have said that if administrative courts have more jurisdiction over administrative cases, then that would reduce the workload of the SC.

As per the bill, the Administrative Court should adjudicate cases of  staff of civil service, health service, parliament secretariat, public institutions, community school teachers, provincial civil servants, local level civil servants, among others.

Ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Chief whip Dev Gurung told the panel to minutely look into the amendment proposals before taking a final call on the bill.

Deputy Parliamentary Party leader of the NCP (NCP) Subas Chandra Nembang told the panel to consult judges before finalising the bill.

Main opposition, lawmaker Atahar Kamal Musalman suggested that it would be better to get feedback from experts and those who had registered amendments to the bill.