Beat the clock

  • Parliament must reconvene immediately so that pending Acts are endorsed on time

Jul 25, 2018-

Nepal adopted its new constitution on September 20, 2015. But for its full-fledged implementation, Parliament must endorse more than 100 new acts, latest by next year. Those concerning fundamental rights of the citizens have to be drafted within three years since the promulgation of the constitution.

This means the federal Parliament needs to endorse all the acts related to fundamental rights before September 19 while the rest have to be in place by March 4 next year.

While hardly eight months remain before the constitutional deadline to formulate more than 100 acts for full-fledged implementation of the new charter expires, the federal Parliament has been without business due to the government’s delay in finalising the necessary bills. The House of Representatives currently has discussed only two bills--the National Medical Education Bill and the Audit Bill.

Parliament was supposed to have a busy session this year, but owing to continued protests over the National Medical Education Bill by the opposition, the Nepali Congress (NC), it is being repeatedly obstructed. Last week, the NC obstructed the House of Representative, and today it has obstructed the National Assembly.

Discussions and engagements form the key features of any democracy. This makes protests, or the act of expressing objection or dissatisfaction, central to democracy. However, it cannot become an end in itself.

Members of Parliament must rightly question, object and suggest alternative courses of action, but they must do so through reasoned and persuasive argument. Instead of allowing regular order of business, the proclivity of the members, whether from the ruling party or the opposition, to disrupt the House only pushes back discussions on pending legislation.

Parliament is the legislative arm of the country. Not allowing Parliament to function disrupts lawmaking and governance. The ruling and opposition parties must discuss and work together to find common ground.

The role of any responsible opposition is to question the government of the day and hold it accountable, not obstruct Parliament and paralyse it. If the current ruling party had been similarly obstructive in the past, the opposition should strive to change such a practice, not repeat it. Stalling Parliament over petty politics only belittles democracy.

If the laws are not in place by the stipulated timeframe, the constitution will have to be amended again. It is an irony that the very institution whose key function is making laws for the country is running late in completing its own regulations to govern its actions.

The onus of ensuring that Parliament functions and delivers for the people lies with each and every member, so all parties must think and act before it’s too late. The government should prepare the drafts immediately and send them to Parliament while the opposition must cooperate and create a conducive environment to pass them.

Published: 25-07-2018 07:29

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