They came, signed in, left

  • Lawmakers skip Parliament discussion on key bills
- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Sep 10, 2016-They signed in, made sure that their presence in Parliament was “officially recorded” and they left. Subsequently, Friday’s House meeting was adjourned. 

Parliament on Friday was scheduled to endorse three key bills related to transforming Appellate Courts into High Courts. The Nepali Congress (NC), the largest party in Parliament and the key coalition partner in the government, had even issued a whip to its lawmakers for their mandatory presence in Parliament.

When Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party lawmaker Dilli Kafle demanded that the House meeting be adjourned as it lacked quorum, Speaker Onsari Gharti Magar ordered a head count. Only 126 lawmakers were found to be present. There should be at least 149 lawmakers—one fourth of the total number of lawmakers—present in the House for the parliamentary proceedings to commence. 

As many as 240 lawmakers had left the Parliament building after signing the attendance register. What is more interesting is some had skipped the House meeting to attend a programme organised by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). 

According to the NDI, 30 lawmakers from different parties had participated in the programme. “We had provided drop facility to lawmakers so that they could reach Parliament for the meeting. They could have stayed there for as long as they wished,” said an official at the NDI requesting anonymity. 

The Judicial Admini-stration Bill, Judicial Council Bill and Judicial Service Commission Bill are awaiting House approval to transform the Appellate Courts into High Courts by September 18, the deadline set by the constitution.

NC Chief Whip Chin Kaji Shrestha said a programme organised to mark the BP Memorial Day was one of the reasons why [NC] parliamentarians were absent in Parliament. “I had issued a whip, however, there were other programmes as well which could not be missed,” he told the Post. According to Babin Sharma, press adviser to Speaker Magar, the tendency among lawmakers to attend I/NGO programmes at the cost of House meetings is an unparliamentary practice. 

The next House meeting has been scheduled for Sunday.

Published: 10-09-2016 08:04

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