New bill will render Madhesi Commission toothless: Lawyers

Kathmandu, October 6

The government has registered a new Madhesi Commission Bill in the Parliament Secretariat with the objective of protecting the interests of Madhesi community as envisaged by the new constitution.

The bill states, among other things, that Madhesi Commission shall make recommendations to the government about the overall situation of the Madhesi community and policies required to change the community’s situation for the better.

The bill also proposes that the commission shall review, monitor and evaluate policies related to Madhesi community and shall recommend programmes in order to conserve and promote Madhesis’ language, script, culture, history, transition, literature and arts.

Lawyers, however, say the bill does not propose to give powers to the commission that it would need to do the required job.

Former vice-president of Nepal Bar Association Surendra Kumar Mahto said the bill did not propose to give powers to the commission to take punitive actions against institutions for failing to ensure Madhesis’ inclusion and human rights violation of Madhesis.

“Madhesi commission should have three types of powers to make recommendations, to issue directives and to prosecute the rights violators,” Mahto said, adding that the bill did not intend to give the much needed powers to the commission.

He argued that without powers to issue directives and take punitive action against those who fail to ensure Madhesi inclusion and those who violate Madhesis’ human rights, such a commission could not act more than a symbolic body.

Mahto said there were some that were misinterpreting the constitution’s provision of reviewing the commission after 10 years. “Review does not mean that the validity of the commission would be reviewed after 10 years, the aim of the constitution is to review whether or not the powers given to the commission were enough to do the assigned job,” Mahto argued.

Human rights lawyer Dipendra Jha said the bill was flawed because it intended to keep the commission under the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development as it proposes in Section 23 that the commission will communicate with the government through the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development.

Jha said the commission should have powers to act on complaints filed by Madhesis against the violation of their rights and the constitutional body should also have powers to blacklist institutions if they ignored the commission’s recommendations.

He said if enough powers were not given to the commission and if its actions were limited to making recommendations to the government, it could suffer the fate of the National Human Rights Commission whose recommendations were often ignored.