EDITORIAL: Hold your horses

Running the administration through ordinances is undemocratic, hence government should refrain from bringing them

The government should never consider bringing ordinances on important issues taking advantage of Parliament’s recess. It will be as good as undermining lawmakers’ rights to discuss bills in Parliament or in the thematic committees if the government brings ordinances. An ordinance is issued in a situation under which something cannot be executed without having it in place immediately. The government should, in consultation with the Speaker and chairman of the National Assembly, convene the parliamentary session as soon as possible if it deems necessary to pass umbrella laws. Reports that the government has asked its line ministries — particularly  the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) — to  prepare either draft bills or ordinances so that either of them could be introduced to address the pressing problems recently raised by provincial governments. The provincial governments are asking the federal government to particularly enact Federal Police Bill and Civil Servant Adjustment Bill so that they can enact their own laws to run provincial police and general administration in their respective provinces.

According to the Parliamentary Secretariat, MoHA and MoFAGA have already registered these two bills and other bills—that contradict the constitution—in Parliament. It is quite clear that the provincial governments cannot have their own Police Act and Civil Servants Act unless the federal Parliament enacts the umbrella laws related with them. Once the umbrella laws are in place, the provincial governments will be able to pass laws in line with the federal laws. Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara has already conveyed to the Prime Minister that it is possible to convene winter session of Parliament after Chhath that falls on November 13.

These are some of the crucial bills that need thorough debates in federal Parliament as they have been drafted for the first time after the adoption of new constitution on federal line. The Speaker has already warned the government against issuing ordinances on these bills. Running administrations through ordinances will set a bad precedent and such a move will also curtail lawmakers’ right to discuss the bills prepared by the government. These bills will shape the future of functioning of provincial governments. It is, therefore, imperative to give lawmakers ample time to discuss the government-drafted bills. If needed, they should be referred to concerned thematic committees which will be able to discuss any bills freely rising above partisan interests. The federal Parliament also should consult stakeholders, legal and security experts before passing the bills on Federal Police and Civil Servants. If these bills are introduced through ordinances lawmakers will be deprived of taking part in them and it will be an undemocratic move. The most risky part of an ordinance is that it is easily passed if the government has a majority in Parliament and, any legal twists given by the government will remain unaddressed. As we have already spent one full year without having the umbrella laws it will not be too late to pass them after thorough deliberations in the sovereign House. Lawmakers’ right to debate all the bills must be respected.

A child in chains

It is heart-wrenching. A 13-year-old boy has been in chains for the past nine years and confined to a goat shed in Sailung Rural Municipality-8 of Dolakha. Subba Tamang is intellectually disabled. His parents, who say they “have done everything possible” in their capacity to treat him, have tied him with ropes since he was four, for he would otherwise walk away from home and would not return.

Parenting children with intellectual disability is not easy; it’s life forever on duty. And when the family is poor, the situation gets even more complicated. Mental health is still one of the least prioritised areas in Nepal’s health care sector. There is a need of mental health policy—and its full implementation—so as to create an environment in which mental health is recognised and persons affected are able to exercise full range of human rights. Children with intellectual disability must be able to enjoy full-fledged health and social care. The state as well as non-government actors should act urgently to ensure children with intellectual disability get to enjoy human rights and do not go through inhuman sufferings. Subba Tamang deserves better.