Process to update laws delayed

  • Government has five months to amend Acts in line with new statute
- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Oct 14, 2018-

The government is yet to determine the number of laws that are inconsistent with the new constitution for mandatory amendment within the next five months.

Acts passed before promulgation of the charter in 2015 need to be revised to comply with the spirit of the new constitution that institutionalised federalism in the country for the first time.

Records at the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs show that 339 Acts need to be reviewed to see if they are in line with the provisions of the constitution. The government has to prepare legal drafts to amend the Acts and get them endorsed by the federal parliament by March 4 next year.

According to Article 304 of the constitution, any law that is inconsistent with it will be invalid to the extent of such inconsistency one year after the first meeting of the federal parliament. The first meeting of the federal parliament, elected following the provisions of the new charter, was held on March 5.

Dhana Raj Gyawali, joint-secretary at the Law Ministry, told the Post that all the ministries have been asked to review the Acts related to them to see if they need amendments. The ministries will then draft amendment bills and report to the Law Ministry for further process of the legislation.

“We are concerned about the implications of the delay. We expect the respective ministries to report to us as soon as possible, keeping the constitutional deadline in mind,” Gyawali told the Post.

If the ministries don’t report immediately after Dashain, said Gyawali, they will set time limits for preparing amendment drafts and registering them at the parliament secretariat. “Our priority will be registering all the amendment bills in Parliament by the end of December,” he added.

Further delays will mean that the federal parliament will have little time for deliberation on the proposed changes before endorsing them. The government’s delay in drafting 17 Acts to guarantee fundamental rights forced both the Houses of Parliament to endorse them without proper discussion among the lawmakers.

Parliamentary regulations had been suspended to shorten the time for endorsing the bills within the constitutional deadline. In the lack of preparations, the Acts directly related to the rights of citizens were drafted without consultation with the stakeholders.

Speaker Krishna Bahadur Mahara said he has frequently told the government to ensure that the bills to amend such Acts land in the House on time. “I’m hopeful that the government has learnt lessons now and that it starts registering such bills with the commencement of the next session,” he told a media interaction on Saturday. “No doubt, there has to be proper deliberation in the House before endorsing any Act.”

The next session of the federal parliament is likely to commence after the Chhath festival (mid-November).

International human rights organisations have cautioned the government to ensure people’s participation before drafting any law. In a statement on Friday, Amnesty International said that broad-based consultation with people in formulating and enacting laws and public policy is a requirement recognised by international standards, including in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nepal is a state party.

Published: 14-10-2018 07:29

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