Parliamentary panel lifts media restriction slightly

Kathmandu, October 31

The State Affairs and Good Governance Committee of the House of Representatives has slightly lifted restriction on journalists covering the panel’s debate.

Today’s meeting of the panel amended its working procedure stating that the decision to bar journalists from covering panel’s discussions will be taken by the secretary of the panel at the direction of the panel’s chair with the consent of the panel’s members.

Earlier, the working procedure had stated that the panel’s chair could solely take decision to bar journalists from covering panel’s discussion. Journalists had opposed panel Chair Shashi Shrestha’s decision on two occasions to bar journalists from covering the panel’s discussions. Shrestha had said then that she decided to bar journalists from discussion as those issues were sensitive.

The panel amended its working procedure after Nepal Communist Party (NCP) lawmaker Pampha Bhusal proposed barring journalists from covering panel’s work only after the panel chair issued directive to do so with the consent of panel members.

The panel members today went to army headquarters to enquire about certain issues and some members opposed the panel chair’s decision to go to army headquarters.  She had restricted media persons earlier during the meeting with office bearers of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence.

Panel member Krishna Gopal Shrestha said it was a blunder on the part of the panel to visit army headquarters.

“We should not go to the army headquarters. Army generals should come to panel’s meeting and brief us on certain issues,” he told the panel meeting.

Chair Shrestha clarified that the army’s briefing at the panel was not enough and therefore, the panel members decided to visit army headquarters which was not her personal decision but the collective decision of the panel.

Half of the members of the panel did not participate in the briefing by army officials today.  Panel members criticised Shrestha for not informing them well about the briefing at the army headquarters.

The panel has also planned to visit the site of Nijgadh-Kathmandu fast track road project tomorrow.

Panel member Dilendra Prasad Badu said that SAGGC’s visit to the fast track road project site might interfere with the jurisdiction of Development Committee of the HoR.