46 posts in 11 constitutional commissions lie vacant for years

Gajendra Basnet

December 5, 2020

8 MIN READ

46 posts in 11 constitutional commissions lie vacant for years
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KATHMANDU: Even after five years of promulgation of the new constitution, most of the posts in the constitutional commissions are lying vacant leaving these bodies meant for empowering and mainstreaming the marginalized and deprived group paralyzed.

Most of the constitutional commissions meant for mainstreaming people are underperforming due to the slackness in fulfillment of the key posts in these bodies. 46 posts in these 11 constitutional bodies are still lying vacant.

The government has violated the constitution by not fulfilling the posts lying vacant in these commissions held most important while drafting the constitution. PM chaired Constitutional Council is supposed to play a lead role in the fulfillment of manpower in these commissions.

The Constitutional Council chaired by Prime Minister has Chief Justice, Speaker of House of Representatives, Chairperson of National Assembly, Leader of main opposition Party in the House of Representatives and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives as its members. The post of Deputy Speaker is lying vacant.

What’s more, there are many factions claiming for the posts supporting their camp even inside the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

But alert at the arbitrariness of the government, the public pressure on the government made it withdraw the ordinance.

Article 284(3) of the constitution provisions: ‘The Constitutional Council must make a recommendation for appointment under this Constitution before one month of the vacation of the office of the Chief Justice or a chief or official of a Constitutional Body.”

In case of death or resignation of the office bearers in these bodies, the Article 284(3) further says, “the council has to make a recommendation for appointment in such way that the office is fulfilled within one month after the date of the vacancy.”

The constitution has the provisions of 12 constitutional bodies/commissions. Each of them has five members including their Chairperson.

The only commission that has all office bearers as provisioned in the constitution is the Public Service Commission. All other commissions have many posts lying vacant.

Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), the authority to curb corruption is sans its chief. CIAA which has the provisions of five office bearers has two posts of commissioners lying vacant. The only two commissioners in CIAA are also retiring on March 30 getting their tenure in office matured.

Likewise, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) is lying sans office bearers since October 19. The Election Commission also has the post of two commissioners lying vacant. National Women Commission is without senior office bearers for 56 months now. Unfortunately, the National Dalit Commission and Indigenous Nationalities Commission have not got their office bearers to date.

Madheshi Commission, Tharu Commission, Muslim Commission, and National Natural Resources and Fiscal Commission which have the provisions of five members have four each lying vacant.

Including Chief Justice and Auditor General 62 posts of the 12 constitutional bodies are to be fulfilled at the decision of the constitutional council. 46 of them are lying vacant there now.

Former Justice of Supreme Court Bala Ram KC regards such a situation beyond the imagination at the time of drafting the constitution.

“Such situation when the authorities related with awarding fundamental rights and the people’s right are sans office bearers is beyond the imagination of the lawmakers or legal experts involved in drafting it,” Former Justice of Supreme Court KC told Khabarhub.

As most of the constitutional commissions are meant to empower and mainstream various classes and groups marginalized and deprived of the state facilities, these constitutional bodies are passing the time confining themselves in administrative works.

These commissions set up with the intent of ensuring justice and inclusion is lying functionless due to the lack of the experts envisioned at the time of conception.

Experts of constitutional law also opine that the government has failed to fulfill its duty of making an environment for the recruitment of office bearers in such commissions.

Senior Advocate Dinesh Tripathi also says that the constitutional commissions should not be left vacant so long.

“How can corruption be curbed when CIAA lies sans office bearers for years, how good governance be ensured when such bodies are paralyzed?” Tripathi asked, “How can an NHRC without office bearers warrantee the rights of the people?”

Entangled in power-sharing! 

According to the experts, the main reason behind the vacant positions now is the lack of understanding of sharing the posts between the ruling and main opposition parties.

What’s more, there are many factions claiming for the posts supporting their camp even inside the ruling Nepal Communist Party(NCP).

The ongoing internal conflict of the ruling NCP has made fulfillment in those posts further uncertain.

Legal experts hold the government accountable for it all.

“The accountability and blame for not keeping the constitutional bodies and commissions intact go to the Prime Minister and the government, it can’t make lame excuses blaming the main opposition party in the parliament,” Senior Advocate Tripathi told Khabarhub.

Had the ordinance not been withdrawn, at the time when the Deputy Speaker’s post is lying vacant, the meeting of three members with two in the majority could accomplish the task of appointment in these bodies.

Likewise, Dr. Surendra Bhandari also blames the government and the conflict in the ruling party responsible for such pitiable status of the constitutional bodies.

“The government itself is entangled in the internal conflict of the party. It has lost its concentration in the work. It has impacted the appointment in such constitutional bodies as well,” Dr. Bhandari told Khabarhub.

Some others think NC also responsible for it as the constitutional council comprises the leader of the main opposition Party in the parliament as its member.

They remark Nepali Congress which could have warned the government of the consequences of paralyzing the constitutional bodies seems lost somewhere else.

In the meantime, the government changed the provision of the mandatory presence of the main opposition party through an ordinance so that the majority of the members present in the Constitutional Council’s Meeting can decide on such appointments.

Had the ordinance not been withdrawn, at the time when the Deputy Speaker’s post is lying vacant, the meeting of three members with two in the majority could accomplish the task of appointment in these bodies.

But alert at the arbitrariness of the government, the public pressure on the government made it withdraw the ordinance.

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