Lack of laws hindering local level reps from exercising rights

Kathmandu, June 6

Local level representatives elected from the first phase of local elections complained that they could not exercise their powers due to lack of relevant laws.

The government has tabled the Local Level Operation Bill in the Parliament but the House is yet to pass it. The bill states the powers and duties of local representatives.

“I do not know what my powers are,” said Deepak KC, chief of Ward 3 of Kathmandu Metropolitan City. He said he is coordinating with his constituents to resolve local problems such as road maintenance, sewage management, building permit approvals and others.

Mayor of Tarekeshwor Municipality Rameshwor Bohara said that two litigants had recently approached him to settle their cases.“They complained they had been fighting the case for years and had spent a lot of money. They said they wanted to reconcile.  I told them that I had no jurisdiction over their case as it was sub judice in a court,” he added.

He said elected representatives were confused about their powers. “We are unable to make budget for the next fiscal due to confusion over the municipality’s jurisdiction,” he added.

The Supreme Court, on July 4, passed an interim order against local level operation mandate issued by the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development. The mandate had delegated some judicial powers to the chiefs of local levels and their executive officers. Advocate Laxman Thapaliya and Sakar Raj Panta had filed a case against the government saying that the government’s decision to delegate judicial power to the chiefs of local levels and their   executive officers was against Article 217 of the constitution, which provisions that all cases under the jurisdiction of local levels should be adjudicated by judicial committees formed under the deputy chiefs of local levels.

Some elected representative of Kathmandu complained that due to lack of laws they were encountering problems even in mobilising employees. KC, chief of Ward-3 of KMC said local representatives did not know whether a decision should taken by majority of members, including the chief of the local levels, or without chief through majority of representatives present in the meeting.

Former chair of Local Bodies Restructuring Commission Balananda Paudel said elected representatives had been unable to run their local levels due to lack of laws. As per the constitution, rural municipality council, municipality council operation procedure should be made by the provincial assembly and Parliament. “Elected representatives can formulate laws provided they do not contradict with the constitution,” said Paudel.

Former LBRC member Sunil Ranjan Singh said representatives could exercise 22 kinds of powers given by the constitution and they themselves could formulate laws for the interim period, which should not be against the statute.

Secretary at the MoFALD Dinesh Thapaliya said the government expected the House to pass the Local Level Operation Bill soon. He said the ministry would depute employees to the local levels in a couple of days.