Parliament fails to meet constitutional deadline to amend some laws inconsistent with statute

Provisions of the Acts that contradict constitution are invalid from tomorrow

The federal parliament has failed to meet the constitutional deadline to amend all the existing laws that are inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution.

Though the House revised over 150 laws which needed some minor changes, it has failed to amend some of the laws which required major changes.

Article 304 of the constitution says: Any law which is inconsistent with this constitution shall ipso facto be invalid to the extent of such inconsistency, after one year of the date on which the first session of the federal parliament set forth in this constitution is held.

As the first meeting of the federal parliament—which was elected as per the new constitution—was held on March 5 last year, the deadline to revise all the laws to bring them in conformity to the constitution ends on March 4.

The federal parliament on Saturday endorsed two amendment bills—Bill to amend some Nepal Acts and Bill to amend some Nepal Acts to Revise them in Line with the Constitution—which sought to make some lump sum changes in 56 and 109 Acts, respectively.

In a rare practice, a House of Representatives meeting was called on Saturday as the amendment Acts need to be authenticated by the President by Monday.

Since March 4 is a public holiday, Parliament should have amended the laws on Saturday to ensure their authentication in time. Hence, Parliament effectively failed to meet the constitutional deadline to amend some laws that are inconsistent with the constitution.

“The endorsement of the two amendment bills revising contradicting laws is in the spirit of constitution,” said Roj Nath Pandey, spokesperson for the Parliament Secretariat.

However, Parliament has failed to endorse bills on Sports Development, Amendment to Citizenship Act and Amendment to Lands Act, among others.

As per the constitution, the provisions in the existing Acts that contradict with the constitution will be invalid to the extent of their inconsistency Tuesday onwards.

For example, there are Sports Development Committees in the five development regions which were established based on existing Sports Development Act. In the lack of new Act, the existing regional committees will lose their legal grounds from Tuesday. “We had drafted a new bill, as existing Act needed massive changes, to make it consistent with the statute,” Ganesh Pandey, spokesperson for the Ministry of Youth and Sports told the Post.

The review by the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs showed 174 Acts among 339, which were in effect before the promulgation of the statute, were inconsistent with the constitution, hence needed some minor to major changes.

“The Amendment to some Nepal Laws Acts can only make cosmetic revisions. The Acts which need major changes have to go through the revision one by one,” Bipin Adhikari, dean at Kathmandu University of Law and an expert on constitutional matters, told the Post.

While the government officials say the one-year deadline was for the amendment of Acts that contradict with the constitution, some legal experts maintained that the deadline was for drafting or revising all the Acts to ensure implementation of the constitution.

For instance federal and provincial Police Acts, a must to hire provincial police as per the spirit of the constitution, should have been ready by the deadline.

“The government and the federal parliament must take the responsibility for failing to work as per the spirit of the constitution,” said Tika Ram Bhattarai, former vice- chairman of the Nepal Bar Association.

Published: 03-03-2019 08:16