Nepal | July 06, 2020

Province 2 takes centre to court over Forest Act

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, November 18

The Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment of Province 2 today filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the government, demanding that the court directs it to scrap the Forest Act as it contradicts the constitution.

The petitioner has named the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the Federal Ministry of Forest and Environment, the Parliament Secretariat and the Office of the President as defendants.

The petitioner has also sought an interim order in the name of defendants, barring them from executing the Forest Act and its provisions until the case is finalised in accordance with the Supreme Court rules.

The petitioner has cited Article 232 (1) of the constitution which stipulates that the relations between the three tiers of government shall be based on cooperation, co-existence and coordination. However, the federal government did not coordinate with Province 2 government before enacting the Forest Act-2019, which violates the powers and rights of the provincial government.

The petitioner has argued that the act violates the principle of natural justice. While the federal government can solely enact laws on the issues of exclusive rights, it cannot do so on issues of concurrent lists on which the federal government must coordinate with the provincial governments, argues the petitioner.

The petition adds that as Point No 19 of Schedule 6 of the constitution contains exclusive lists of provincial powers, national forests within a province, water utilisation and environment management, it should be under the jurisdiction of provincial governments.

The petitioner stated that the Forest Act defined provincial forests as national forests so that they could be managed by the federal government.

The petitioner has demanded that executive rights given to divisional forest officer should be scrapped as per Article 162 (1) of the constitution. The petitioner argued that the Forest Act gives executive rights to the divisional forest officer and the provisions are contradictory to the constitutional provision.

The petitioner has also stated that the act has provisions related to determination, management and ownership transfer of forests within the province. “This provision has rendered ineffective provincial legislative powers,” adds the petition. “The federal government is wrong in trying to keep with itself the rights that should be delegated to provinces.”

A version of this article appears in print on November 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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