Proposal to set up constitutional COMMITTEES queers pitch for THE DOWNTRODDEN
KATHMANDU: Yesterday, the Constituent Assembly (CA) Committee to determine the structure of constitutional bodies proposed 11 panels in the new statute.
The big question: Will the setting up of various commissions after the constitution is drafted help the cause of the marginalised?
This is a matter of great national import, which needs to be addressed in a tactful and responsible manner.
Of the 11 proposed panels, four bodies — Public Service Commission (PSC), Election Commission (EC), Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) and Office of Audit Commission (AC) — are an integral part of the state mechanism.
Ditto for National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
But the rest, which has been accorded the status of constitutional bodies in the CA Committee’s draft, is directly linked to the aspirations and woes of women, dalits, indigenous nationalities, disabled, minorities and marginalised and underprivileged groups like the Madhesis and the Muslims.
Four bodies have executive powers. The remaining can only make recommendations to the government on issues under their purview.
The move has triggered the following questions: Would not the provision of setting up of commissions after the promulgation of the constitution put these long standing problems on the backburner? This, in turn, will lead to inordinate delay in implementation.
Also, do these groups genuinely want six “decorative constitutional bodies” or simply lasting solution to the problems?
Besides, bereft of executive powers, the bodies can do precious little to help their cause. The exercise will be a huge drain on the exchequer as well.
Perhaps, the proposal has a lot to do with the wooing of the disenchanted masses amid the irresponsible conduct of various political parties.
In the past, too, the government had made similar pledges. But, little came off those lofty promises.
As of now, the still-born panels will create more
confusion and raise great
expectations among the
There is also a legal angle to validate the setting up of these panels.
Kanshi Raj Dahal, a constitutional expert, explained that constitutional bodies meant all those that were enshrined in the statute. Hence, they are empowered to function in an
“Some essential bodies, including CIAA and PSC, have been accorded the
status of constitutional bodies. This is largely because their rights and powers couldn’t be curtailed by promulgating laws in the future. If the executive powers are divested in too many bodies, then, naturally, the government is considerably weakened. On the contrary, decorative panels have little meaningful role to play. They are reduced to being mere statutory bodies,” he reasoned. According to Dahal, the very idea behind setting up of commissions in a haphazard manner snowballs into an unwarranted controversy, which puts legal and constitutional norms and values in jeopardy.
He suggested that the government can form statutory commissions for a short term to address the specific problems of various groups and communities.
Govinda Chaudhari, chairman, CA Committee, defended the move to set up these commissions.
“We’ve received 40,658 suggestions from the public about restructuring the constitutional bodies, urging us to set up as many as 83 panels, including Youth and Language Commissions. But, we decided to form six commissions. This is only an initial report, which leaves room for modifications. The full meeting of the House can decide to form a single panel or add to the existing proposals. The CA is scheduled to discuss the draft of the committees from July 8,” he said. Chaudhari made it abundantly clear that the people have to rely on the government for deliverance.
The President, on the recommendation of Constitutional Council, will appoint Chief Commissioners and commissioners of the panels. All the commissioners have to go through mandatory parliamentary hearing process before they assume office. As per the report, CIAA and NHRC will be formed separately at provincial or state level. The rest of the commissions will have regional offices. Their expansions will be determined at a later date.
In the Interim Constitution, 2007, there are five constitutional bodies — PSC, EC, CIAA, NHRC and Office of Auditor General — that enjoy independent entity.
Though Office of Attorney General is also known as a constitutional body, it is not an independent institution since the Prime Minister appoints the Attorney General, the legal advisor to the government.