Lack of quorum stalls passage of vital bills

Kathmandu, September 9

The Parliament could not pass three important bills today due to lack of quorum.

Passage of Judicial Administration Bill, Judicial Service Commission Bill and Judicial Council Bill is crucial for setting up federal judicial structures, including the high courts, Spokesperson for Parliament Secretariat Bharat Raj Gautam told THT.

The constitutional provision mandates the government to set up high court within one year of the commencement of the constitution.

According to Gautam, a total of 366 lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties had signed the attendance book today but when time came to put the three bills to vote, only 126 members were present.

A total of 149 members need to be in the House at the time of passing a bill.

The issue of quorum was raised by Nepal Workers’ and Peasants’ Party lawmaker Dilli Prasad Kafle. Some lawmakers were participating in a programme organised by National Democratic Institute, an INGO, while others were at Sundarijal to mark BP Jayanti, according to sources.

NDI’s Country Director Kenza Aqertit could not be contacted for comments despite repeated attempts.

Nepali Congress lawmaker Ramhari Khatiwada said it was a matter of shame that some lawmakers were attending an INGO’s programme at a time when important bills were to be put to vote. “It is illogical to let lawmakers attend NGOs’ programmes, as the government has restricted CDOs from attending such programmes,” he added.

NC Chief Whip Chinkaji Shrestha said he learnt only a few hours before the House meeting that important bills were among the day’s business items and issued whips to party’s lawmakers. “Our lawmakers had gone to Sundarijal and they were about to return to the House.

The Speaker should have rescheduled the voting today after a break instead of postponing the day’s business,” Shrestha said and added that he had even requested the Speaker not to call the House meeting today, as the NC was marking BP Jyanti. Shrestha said after he learnt of the House’s business, he issued whips to the party lawmakers.

CPN-UML Chief Whip Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal said his party lawmakers had gone to attend a meeting of the party’s province committee but most of the lawmakers were present in the House.

“The House lacked quorum because most of the ruling parties’ MPs left the House in the middle of the business,” he added.

Babin Sharma, press adviser to Speaker Onsari Gharti, claimed that the Speaker had repeatedly told the parties, chief whips and even the lawmakers not to attend any programme or go on a tour within or outside the country when the Parliament was in session.