EDITORIAL: Enact rules pronto

Lawmakers who are custodians of Parliament cannot take it hostage; they should sort out issues and enact regulations at the earliest

Parliamentary committees are the most important entities to make the parliamentary processes more effective and make the government accountable to the people. The parliamentary panels are also considered mini-parliaments, where lawmakers freely express views on myriad issues keeping their partisan views aside. The views aired by them in their respective parliamentary panels immensely help in drafting, amending or repealing any bill in the best interest of the nation and people. The more they become active, the more effective the parliamentary democracy becomes. It is the parliamentary panels which also scrutinise the government’s functioning and discuss reports of various constitutional bodies, including the annual report of the Office of the Auditor’s General, which conducts auditing of the government’s financing and its performance. Due to their rigorous discussions in the panels, the lawmakers had compelled the government to make corrections to its wrongdoings in the past. In most cases the decisions made by parliamentary panels are also binding to the government.

It has been more than five months since the parliamentary and provincial elections were held but the federal Parliament – the House of Representatives and National Assembly – has not been able to enact its regulations which govern its functioning. Provincial assemblies are also waiting for the federal Parliament to pass its regulations so that they can follow suit to ensure uniformity in the parliamentary system. The regulations are in limbo as parliamentary parties are at loggerheads, especially over the issue of whether or not a lawmaker accused of a crime carrying jail sentence of three years or more should be suspended. It has become the bone of contention between the ruling and the opposition benches. The Parliamentary Regulations Drafting Committee has already handed the draft over to Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara who is trying to find consensus across the benches.

Due to the absence of parliamentary rules, the federal Parliament has not been able to form the proposed 10 parliamentary panels, including the Parliamentary Hearing Committee (PHC), in HoR and four in the NA. Appointments of the chief justice, members in constitutional bodies and ambassadors have remained stalled due to the absence of PHC. Parliamentary hearing is a must before making appointments to these positions. The political parties cannot remain indecisive for so long over a lawmaker’s status after s/he is indicted in a criminal case.

It’s very simple to resolve the dispute. They can follow the provisions of the two Constituent Assemblies – that also functioned as the Legislature Parliament – where there was a provision to suspend a lawmaker after being indicted on criminal charge. What the lawmakers should bear in mind is that they are not above the law. If a government employee is automatically suspended from his/her office once s/he is charge-sheeted on a corruption or a criminal case, the same rule must apply even to the lawmakers. The lawmakers who are custodians of Parliament cannot take it hostage.

Maintain vigilance

Kidney crime is raising its ugly head once again in Kavre. Until a few years ago, traffickers were quite active in the district where they would dupe people to “sell” their kidneys, saying the “organ would grow back”. Kidney traffickers were taking advantage of poverty and lack of awareness. Massive media reporting, sustained campaigns and police action, however, had played a key role in checking the crime. Kidney smuggling had ceased after police arrested 10 smugglers five years ago. But recent reports about illegal kidney transplant in the district have stoked fears that kidney smugglers have become active again.

Authorities concerned must pay serious attention to this recent development. Trade of organs is a crime in Nepal. But lack of awareness and abject poverty leave many poor people in the country with no option, hence when they are promised “good money” by traffickers, they tend to fall into the trap easily. Smuggling of kidney from Kavre was so rife until a few years ago that the district had earned an unfortunate reputation of “kidney bank”. Police and other agencies need to be extra vigilant to ensure safety of the people in Kavre and elsewhere.