Minister Yadav expresses concern about functioning of House panel

Expressing strong reservations against the functioning of the parliamentary committee, Industry, Commerce and Supplies Minister Matrika Prasad Yadav stormed out of the meeting at the Industry, Commerce, Labour and Consumer Interest Committee, here today.

“I walked out today because the committee has breached its jurisdiction and is biased against me,” Minister Yadav told The Himalayan Times over the phone.

According to him, the parliamentary committees should summon the line minister for discussion on any issues related to their ministry.

“The line minister must be present when discussions are being held on any bill related to their ministry, as he or she might need to clarify on certain issues,” he argued.

Minister Yadav’s outburst today can be attributed to Monday’s meeting of the committee.

“The committee was holding a debate on an important matter and even though I told them I was busy that day, they went ahead with the discussion without me,” he said.

He further alleged that there were some ‘conflicts of interest’ regarding the bill, due to which the committee members are trying to dodge him.

Talking to THT, Minister Yadav said discussions on pertinent issues related to licence renewal of industries and land threshold for industries, among others, had now been halted.

The committee was scheduled to hold clause-wise discussion and give the final shape to the Industrial Enterprise Bill today. However, the discussion was postponed to Friday after Minister Yadav walked out from the meeting.

Meanwhile, Bimal Prasad Sriwastab, president of the committee, defended his decision to carry on with the discussion even in the absence of the minister saying that the committee has its own rules and regulations.

“There is no provision that states line minister should be present during the committee meeting to pass any bill.”

Constitution expert Bhimarjun Acharya also said that it was not necessary for the line minister to be present for every discussion of any bill. “The parliamentary committee will summon the related minister if needed,” he said, adding no democratic country has such a provision that requires the presence of the minister whenever a House panel is holding a discussion.

Another constitution expert Bipin Adhikari, though, said that if a parliamentary committee is conducting any task related to the line ministry, it should call the line minister for discussion.

“It’s basically about coordination between the chairman of the committee and the minister to ensure smooth functioning of the processes.”

[A version of this article appears in print on August 23, 2019 of The Himalayan Times]