Kathmandu, November 17
Nepali Congress lawmakers have opposed the government and ruling party’s efforts to propose a provision in the Federal Civil Service Bill to deprive retired civil servants of their pension if they criticise the government in a manner that can incite hatred, social conflict and violence.
Minister of Federal Affairs and General Administration Lalbabu Pandit and ruling party’s lawmakers told a meeting of the State Affairs and Good Governance Committee last week that the government was in favour of depriving retired civil servants of their pension if they were convicted of any criminal offence or crime against the state, held permanent residence card of any foreign country, expressed inflammatory views or leaked any information that they were supposed to keep secret.
A staffer at the SAGCC told THT that the committee tentatively agreed on these restrictive provisions, but Nepali Congress lawmaker Dilendra Prasad Badu said the issue had not been finalised yet and he would raise it at the SAGCC meeting on Friday.
“Ruling party lawmakers and the line minister brought a proposal to introduce restrictive clause in the bill to punish retired civil servants for criticising the government. I told them that I am against their proposal. If they try to pass it on the basis of their majority, NC lawmakers will write a note of dissent,” Badu said, asking, “How can it be fair to punish pensioners for criticising the government? If retired civil servants can join politics, why can’t they be allowed to criticise the government?”
MoFAGA Secretary Yadav Prasad Koirala said the government wanted to incorporate the restrictive provision in the bill not to prevent retired civil servants from criticising the government but to prevent them from doing arbitrary things and inciting hatred, conflicts and violence. “Retired civil servants, who get pension from government coffers, are just like serving civil servants. The government does not want to allow retired servants to do things that they were not allowed to do when they were in service,” Koirala added.
Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Pampha Bhusal said she favoured the restriction because similar provisions were there in the laws that governed the services of Nepal Police and Nepali Army. “We have clearly proposed that the restriction is for criticising the government in a manner that could incite violence and hatred in society,” she said.
Chair of Nepal Civil Service Employees’ Union Gopal Prasad Pokharel said retired civil servants were free to join politics and they should not be barred from criticising the government on any grounds.
“If any retired civil servants violate any law, there are relevant laws to deal with that. Why should the government try to bring an extra law to punish retired civil servants?” he said and added that his organisation would oppose the government’s move.
Senior Advocate Surendra Kumar Mahto told THT that pension was the reward for retired civil servants for doing long service and it was also a matter of right to life. “No grounds can justify revocation of pension as it is a matter of right to life of retired civil servants,” he said, “Can those lawmakers who favour depriving retired civil servants of pension for criticising the government say that they should also be deprived of their life insurance money?”
He said the proposal to bar retired civil servants from accepting permanent residence of a foreign country was also illogical. “While it may be justified to bar serving civil servants from obtaining DV or PR of foreign country, the same argument is illogical in the case of retired civil servants,” he adde
A version of this article appears in print on November 18, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.