Ministries dither over revising laws

- BINOD GHIMIRE, Kathmandu

Nov 1, 2018-

Less than four months remain for the constitutional deadline to amend laws not conforming to the constitution, but 22 ministries, including the Prime Minister’s Office, have yet to identify them and report to the Ministry of Law and Justice, leading to fears that Parliament might endorse them in haste.

It has become a tradition of the government to draft the laws at the last hour with little time for the federal parliament to have deliberations on them before endorsement.

Last month, 17 Acts related to the fundamental rights of the citizen had to be endorsed by Parliament without proper discussions among the lawmakers and consultations with the stakeholders, owing to the delay on part of the government to draft them on time.

Now, ministries are delaying reviewing the Acts that went into action before the promulgation of the constitution and are not in line with the document.

Article 304 of the constitution says 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. This means they have to be revised as per the spirit of the charter to avoid a situation that leads to laws being void. As the first meeting of the federal parliament, which was elected as per the new statute, was held on March 5, the final deadline for all revised laws ends on March 4 next year.

“The Speaker has raised the issue frequently with the government and top leadership of different parties. We believe they understand the urgency,” said Gopal Nath Yogi, Secretary at the House of Representatives. “We want the laws to be endorsed after proper deliberations unlike those related to fundamental rights.”

There are 339 Acts related to different ministries that came into effect before the promulgation of the new constitution and need to be reviewed to ascertain they are in line with the spirit of the statute.

All such laws that contradict any constitutional provision either need to be amended or replaced with new ones.

“We have not received reports from any ministry so far,” said Hum Bahadur KC,  Spokesperson for the Law Ministry. “We expect all the ministries to submit reports after reviews by mid-November.”

After completing the review process, the respective ministries will have to prepare amendment to the contradicting laws in consultation with the Law Ministry before forwarding them to the federal parliament.

Yogi said the winter session of Parliament could start after Chhath festival after consultation with the government. Both Houses will not have adequate time for deliberations unless the process for their endorsement starts within a month. It takes at least two weeks to get an Act endorsed from both the Houses. Every Act needs approval from the HoR and National Assembly before coming into effect after the President’s authentication.

Published: 01-11-2018 07:08

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