Kathmandu, provinces differ on CDO’s role

According to the bill, the chief district officer reports the law and order situation to the Federal Home Ministry and provincial Internal Affairs Ministry

Jan 6, 2019-

A month after the first Inter-state Council Meeting chaired by the prime minister agreed to resolve the row over jurisdictions of the Centre and the provinces, a new federal bill on internal security has hit a nerve.

According to the bill under consideration at the Cabinet, the federal government mobilises the chief district officer (CDO) to maintain law and order and to run the administration. The CDO will work as a representative of the federal government, coordinating between the offices in the districts except for the court and defence outposts, according to the draft of the bill obtained by the Post.

All the security agencies in the district should work as instructed by the CDO. The CDO reports the law and order situation to the Federal Home Ministry and the provincial Internal Affairs Ministry and s/he takes the instruction of both the ministries. The District Administration Office, headed by the CDO, will have officials deputed by the Centre, according to the proposed provision.

These measures have attracted strong protests from the provinces as they claim that the constitution entrusts the provincial government with the responsibility of maintaining law and order in the province. 

As per Schedule 6 of the constitution, running the State Police Administration and maintaining order in the province comes under the province’s exclusive jurisdiction. Article 57 of the constitution states that the provinces exercise power vested in Schedule 6 in accordance with the constitution and provincial laws.

By requiring the officers to report to both the federal and provincial ministries, the bill holds the CDO accountable to both the Centre and the respective province.

Province 2 Chief Minister Lal Babu Raut told the Post that they protested the proposed provision as being against the constitution which gives the province exclusive power on security matters.

“The spirit of the constitution is that the province will mobilise its own representatives to maintain law and order in each district and such representatives can take the help of the Centre if necessary,” he said. “The Centre mobilising its representative will create a parallel security institution and it is against federalism and the constitution.”

However, Home Ministry officials claimed that since sensitive issues like security should not be left only to the care of state government, provincial security should be a part of the broader national security. They argue that at a time when national integrity is at risk due to secessionist elements that burn the national flag, chant anti-Nepal slogans and kill police personnel, Kathmandu should have some control over the security apparatus.

Although all the provinces oppose the provisions, Province 2 has been most vocal against it. Chief Minister Raut warned that his government would table its own bill at the State Assembly to set up a separate law enforcement mechanism.

“We’re preparing to present the bill within a week. Nobody can stop us from exercising our constitutional authority,” Raut told the Post.

Published: 06-01-2019 06:51

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