TOPICS: Handling appointments to constitutional bodies

It is important to finalise the members of the Constitutional Council. The National Council (Upper House) is without a chairman and there is no opposition leader in the legislature. Probably, the erstwhile leader of CPN-UML cannot take up the post due to the formation of the SPA alliance. The appointment of the ex-opposition leader as a member in the Constitutional Council may invalidate its decisions. If the Chief Justice is not satisfied, the PM and the Speaker will settle the issue.

In the past 12 years, the Constitutional Council consisted of politicians only. Bureaucrats with political affiliations were selected as members in constitutional bodies. We should learn from the past appointment of Election Commissioners and their dismissal. The process of removal of the heads and commissioners of the constitutional bodies has ended, hopefully. Note the differences between the outgoing and incoming commissioners. Is there a difference of groups supporting the two sides? There will be people to hail the appointments. Such reaction to Bhakta Bahadur Koirala’s appointment to the Royal Commssion was no exception. If this constitutes a violation of law, lawyers should knock at the door of the Supreme Court. The complaints against the PM/ministers/politicians can be taken care of by following strict guidelines for appointment as well as by considering a pool of possible appointees, including people from ethnic groups.

There is a need to clarify, besides responsibilities, their tenure up to the formation of a coalition government or up to the formation of a constituent assembly (CA) or for a specific period as stated in the 1990 Constitution, as well as the package of remuneration and perks. Such positions need not be filled with political/personal supporters. People are eager to see a marked improvement in the process of their appointment and performance.

The following steps should be taken to reduce shortcomings. Firstly, the appointees’ property with tax clearance should be made public along with their performance every three months. The parliamentary Hearing Committee should examine government nominees. An assessment of their competence is crucial to ensuring that no group reaps all benefits. Any politician-bureaucrat collusion must not influence appointments.

The House has been politically and not constitutionally revived. The government of SPA partners , without the Maoists, has a limted mandate to formulate a new constitution, hold polls and restore peace. It must not make far-reaching decisions when the new constitution is yet to emerge. The CIAA has three members appointed by S B Thapa government. If they continue, there should be no further appointments. The PM cannot maintain impartiality. Also, the number of persons reviewed for the positions must be made public. The number of vacancies needs to be sent to the Public Hearing Committee at least thrice or else the culture of privileges will continue. Such a trend may cause frustration among the people.