Kathmandu, October 22
President of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba today told Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli that the Constitutional Council should take decisions on the basis of consensus, not majority.
Talking over phone with Oli, Deuba said representation of the main opposition in the Constitutional Council was to ensure consensus. “Deuba told Oli that NC’s presence in the council’s meetings had no meaning if the government wanted to take decisions on the basis of majority,” said NC Spokesperson Bishwa Prakash Sharma.
Deuba had called Oli after a meeting of the NC at his residence this morning concluded that commissions were constitutional bodies above the government and should not be politicised or made to work at the government’s behest.
Earlier, a meeting of the Constitutional Council, in January, had recommended chairpersons for the five constitutional commissions, in the absence of the leader of the opposition, Deuba. Then the government had told the council that the leader of the opposition party should compulsorily attend its first meeting, but that subsequent meetings could take decisions on the basis of majority as per the constitutional provision.
The NC had also opposed the council’s move, issuing a press statement. It had even halted
the meeting of the Public Hearing Committee in January-end. The NC had said nominations made in the absence of the leader of the opposition were against the spirit of the constitution.
Oli had called a meeting of the Constitutional Council this afternoon to discuss appointments to constitutional commissions, but it was postponed following the Oli-Deuba telephone conversation.
Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives Shiva Maya Tumbahamphe, who is a member of the Constitutional Council, confirmed that the council’s meeting had been postponed. “The meeting was postponed after Deuba conveyed to Oli that he could not attend it,” Tumbahamphe told THT. “The meeting is likely to take place only after the PM returns from Azerbaijan.”
Oli is leaving for Baku, Azerbaijan, on Thursday leading a Nepali delegation to the 18th Summit of Heads of State or Government of the Non-Aligned Movement, being held from October 25 to 26. He will return on October 27.
More than four years after the promulgation of the constitution, seven thematic commissions envisioned by the statute to address concerns of marginalised groups are yet to take shape. Appointments are yet to be made to the Election Commission, the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority and the Public Service Commission.
Of the seven thematic commissions, four are awaiting appointment of office bearers, while three only have chairpersons.
The Constitutional Council headed by the prime minister had, on January 20, named chiefs of the four commissions — Shanta Raj Subedi as chairperson of the Inclusive Commission, Vijay Kumar Dutta as chairman of the Madhesi Commission, Bishnu Prasad Chaudhary as chief of the Tharu Commission and Samim Ansari as chief of the Muslim Commission. After Subedi resigned from his post recently, the Inclusion Commission is now left with only one member.
The government had said appointments to the three commissions — Indigenous Nationalities Commission, National Dalit Commission and National Women Commission — would be made soon.
A version of this article appears in print on October 23, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.