Congress boycotts hearing panel meeting

- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Feb 18, 2019-

Members of the Parliamentary Hearing Committee representing the opposition Nepali Congress, which had refrained from attending previous meetings of the committee, boycotted Sunday’s meeting as well.

Four members of the Hearing Committee (PHC) have been staying away from its meetings claiming that the decision of the Constitutional Council’s meeting held on January 20 in the absence of opposition leader was against the constitutional provisions.

The Congress members had also stayed away from the February 3 meeting of the committee after it rejected their demand for documents related to the Constitutional Council’s decision-making process. The Congress party says the council’s decision taken in the absence of the opposition leader, whose presence is mandatory as per constitutional and legal provisions, is illegal.

The party has four members in the 15-strong committee, while the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) commands a majority with nine members. The other two members are from the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum-Nepal and the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal.

The Constitutional Council had decided to recommend former secretary Balananda Poudel as the chairman of the National Natural Resource and Fiscal Commission, former finance secretary Shanta Raj Subedi as the chairman of the National Inclusive Commission, Bijay Kumar Datta as the chairman of the Madhesi Commission, former state minister Bishnu Prasad Chaudhary as the chairman of the Tharu Commission and Samim Ansari as the chairman of the National Muslim Commission.

Despite the absence of NC members, the PHC has started the process to hear the five persons recommended to head the constitutional commissions. On February 4, the PHC called for complaints against the five candidates within 10 days. However, the committee received complaints only against Ansari. According to a PHC member, three complaints were filed against Ansari—one questioning his academic qualification.

The PHC meeting on Sunday decided to grill the two candidates named to head the National Natural Resource and Fiscal Commission, and the National Inclusive Commission on Tuesday.

“We’ll hold discussion with the person registering complaint at 11 am and begin hearing of Balananda Poudel and Shanta Raj Subedi at 12 noon on Tuesday,” said NCP lawmaker Amrita Thapa.

The NC members of the PHC have said they will not attend the meetings until the hearing process of the five candidates is completed.

“After the PHC rejected our demand for documents to see if the council meeting followed the due constitutional process, members representing the Congress [party] have decided not to attend the hearing of the five recommended chairpersons,” said NC lawmaker Bhimsen Das Pradhan, a member of the committee.

At the February 3 meeting, committee Chairman Laxman Lal Karna had said they could do nothing about the decision of the council.

Published: 18-02-2019 10:33

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