KATHMANDU, MARCH 24
"NA chairperson should have asked the government to call the NA meeting with the HoR "
The function of the Parliament is to debate bills and form laws, but Nepal's Parliament has not been doing so ever since the House of Representatives was reinstated by the Supreme Court and held its first meeting on March 7.
Opposition parties today flayed the government for not giving business to the House of Representatives, the Lower House of the Parliament.
Nepali Congress lawmaker Radhe Shyam Adhikari told THT that there was urgency to pass some crucial bills, including the Citizenship Act (Amendment) Bill, Federal Civil Service Bill, Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (Third Amendment) Bill, Nepal Civil Aviation Authority Bill, but the government was not ready to move those bills ahead.
The CIAA Bill and the Civil Aviation Authority Bill originated in the NA, but since the government did not call the NA meeting simultaneously with the HoR meeting, these bills could not move ahead.
"Had the government wanted to make HoR meetings productive, it could have called meetings of the upper and the lower house. NA chairperson should have asked the government to call the NA meeting with the HoR," Adhikari said.
He said the government knew that lawmakers would oppose tabling of the Constitutional Council Act (Amendment) Ordinance, yet it brought the ordinance on the first day of the HoR meeting. "The government deliberately brought the Constitutional Council Act (Amendment) Ordinance, listing it at the top of eight ordinances, following which opposition lawmakers walked out of the HoR meeting," he said.
Adhikari said frosty relations between Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota was one of the reasons why the House was not functioning properly. Sapkota has filed a case against the government for making appointments to constitutional bodies without parliamentary hearing.
The appointed officials were recommended by Constitutional Council's meeting held on December 15, after the government brought an ordinance to amend the Constitutional Council Act the same day.
Nepali Congress whip in the Lower House Pushpa Bhusal said there was urgent need to pass crucial bills, including the citizenship bill and bills related to federalism, but the government seemed to care two hoots.
"The Parliament, which is supposed to pass maximum number of bills in the winter session, is not passing any bill due to the government's attitude," she added.
Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna said it was the duty of the government to give business to the House. "The government is technically in majority in the House but practically it is in minority and that could be the reason why it is not giving business to the House," he added.
CPN-MC Chief Whip Dev Gurung said the PM, who had dissolved the HoR on December 20, had been trying to prove that this Parliament could not function properly and should be dissolved again.
Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Lilanath Shrestha said opposition parties' criticism of the government was wrong.
He said 36 bills were under consideration of the Parliament and the HoR and its committees could debate and pass those bills.
According to Shrestha, the government wants to forge consensus among political parties on citizenship bill and civil servants bill before passing them.
Deputy parliamentary party leader of the ruling CPN-UML Subas Chandra Nembang, who is close to Oli, said the government was hesitant in moving ahead some of the bills because when those bills were registered in the House, both the UML and CPN-MC were part of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP).
"But after the Supreme Court nullified the NCP unification, the two parties were still ruling parties but their views on those bills would certainly not be the same. If the government wants to move these bills ahead, CPN-MC lawmakers are going to oppose those bills. This is a complexity the government faces," Nembang said.
A version of this article appears in the print on March 25, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.