No laws on fundamental rights ready though deadline ends Sept 19, 2018

KATHMANDU, Sept 4: The government has failed to formulate even a single law essential for the implement of the newly-introduced fundamental rights even as the constitutional deadline for enacting such laws ends on September 19.

Altogether 15 bills related to the implementation of the fundamental rights as envisioned by the present constitution, have either been just tabled in parliament or have just been forwarded to the various parliamentary committees so far. Most of the parliamentary committees have not held even a single meeting to discuss such bills, as these committees have yet to elect their heads.

Only the legislative committee of the upper house has been holding discussions on the bills relating to fundamental rights.

Speaker of the lower house Krisha Bahadur Mahara is, meanwhile, scheduled to embark on five-day visit to China from September 7, despite the pressure of business in parliament. According to the speaker's secretariat, his participation in a conference there was scheduled a month earlier.

In Mahara's absence, the House of Representatives cannot be convened . With the speaker abroad and some public holidays just around the corner, parliamentary meetings can be held for only around a week in the remaining 15 days.

The speaker's China visit, the lengthiness of parliamentary procedures and the ineffective parliamentary committees are likely to push business towards the deadline, leaving little time for discussing the issues sufficiently or even adhering to the requisite procedures.

Lawmakers were given three days by the lower house on Monday to register their amendments to three newly registered bills, while the upper house is expected to allow amendments from Tuesday to the bill on the rights of children . The bills are also likely to be forwarded to the parliamentary committees for further deliberations.

Parliament will have only a few days for discussions on the 15 bills and their endorsement even if the parliamentary committees concerned table the revised bills in the full House for discussion and endorsement. All bills must be forwarded to both houses of the bicameral parliament for discussion and endorsement. But the upper house cannot reject a bill which is already endorsed by the lower house. It can only send its feedback .

Experts have expressed concern that eleventh-hour endorsement of the fundamental laws without proper discussion may not do justice to their objectives as envisioned by the constitution.

“The major goal of the new fundamental rights are to ensure the social, economic and cultural rights of citizens. But the government drafted the laws without proper consultation and now the legislature is under deadline pressure,” legal expert Bipin Adhikari told Republica. “Enactment of such laws in a short time and with little discussion might meet the formalities but may not achieve the constitutional goals.”

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal, however, said, “We have urged the speaker and the upper house chairman to prioritize the endorsement of the fundamental rights bills. Now it is the responsibility of parliament to meet the constitutional deadline.”

The government has tabled 15 bills to implement 31 fundamental rights provisioned in the new constitution . The constitution has set a three-year deadline for the implementation of the fundamental rights . Article 47 of the constitution has stated that "the state shall, as required, make legal provisions for the implementation of the rights conferred by this part, within three years of the commencement of this constitution". September 19 marks the 3rd anniversary of the promulgation of the new constitution.