How do you view the present state of law making when the country is said to be in need of work on 338 acts to support the new constitution?
With the coordination of the Ministry of Law and Justice, over110 acts are under the process of amendment. Nepal Law Commission is also supporting amendment of the acts in coordination with other ministries. The acts are related to fundamental rights, Commission Acts and others. As per the constitution, we need to draft new bills to change the old acts. This is a very important period in the process of law making in Nepal.
What is the manpower availability and requirement?
We have seven officers, including secretary in bureaucracy, and the commission is led by a political appointee. We don’t need to hire experts in drafting the bill.
How many bills is the commission preparing now?
We are now drafting 11 different bills. These include Petroleum Bill, Zoo Bill, Prison Bill, Land Acquisition Bill, Consumer Protection Bill, Food Security Bill, Privacy Bill, Competitive Bill, Farmers Commission Bill and Registration of Organization Bill.
How is the commission supporting the constitution process?
After the promulgation of the new constitution, there is the need to replace some legislations, declare them null and void or amend. The Law Commission is currently studying what laws the country needs in the changing scenario. Along with these, we are also preparing the draft of the bills as per the request of concerned ministries.
Has the commission drafted any new bill recently?
We have drafted a bill on senior citizens. This is also related to fundamental rights.
Petroleum Transaction Bill is now in the pipeline. Now we are also drafting the Right to Food Bill which is also part of the fundamental rights. With support from FAO, we have studied the concept and frame of the bill. In the process of implementation of fundamental rights, we are also drafting the Right to Privacy Bill and Consumer Protection Bill.
Do you hold discussions on the draft of the bill?
When we draft the bill, we set up a small committee of experts and concerned stakeholders. Our aim is to include their versions as well. To create the ownership of the bill, we do organize various discussions at different stages. After the formulation of the final draft, we also organize a broader meeting to discuss different clauses and parts of the draft before preparing it as a bill. We review and accommodate the views.
What kinds of bill does the commission draft?
We usually draft more complicated and complex bills which other ministries do not have manpower to do. For example, now we are drafting New Organization Registration Bill. As there are a lot of difficulties and complexities, the Ministry of Home has requested us to draft the new bill. I am leading the committee. The commission is also drafting one of the most controversial and difficult bills on land acquisition. The Land Acquisition Bill has created a lot of problems in the process of land acquisition. Ministry of Land Reforms has requested us to draft the bill. Over 50 percent of the work has already been completed and we are planning to present it to the concerned ministry.
Why do you get so complex bills to work on?
As the bills with us are very sensitive and related to fundamental rights, we need to work cautiously. We discuss the draft at regional and official levels. One important act was the Prison Bill, which will replace the old Prison Act. Due to the act, human rights activists are complaining over some provisions.
What about the bill on zoo?
With no legal definition, there are many so-called zoos in different sizes throughout the country. There is no act now to exchange the wild animals. Similarly, Nepal has been exchanging the wild animals on the basis of administrative orders. We are drafting the bill, learning from international practices and legal systems. The new bill will include the provisions for exchange of wild animals among the zoos around the country. As the country is moving to a federal set up, every province will set up zoos within their territory. This also requires the act to define the categories of zoos. There is also the need of the authority to handle the zoos centrally.
What other role does the commission have?
The commission has also been launching the dissemination workshops in different parts of the country. We are now holding discussions on the Sexual Harassment Law in different districts. Our team will hold the meeting on how to implement the act. We are also planning to host seminars on consumer rights.
You are also operating the legal website. What is the state of that online work?
One of the important works of the commission is to operate the legal website. We are regularly updating the laws and activities related to the legal systems of Nepal. Our website includes all the constitutions, laws, regulations, rajpatra orders and administrative orders issued in different periods of time. We are also spending quite a bit of time to make our website effective and informative. This is the image of Nepal’s law system. It is very difficult to update it. We will update and review the act daily. Despite the small manpower, the commission is taking all major tasks related to laws.
Are you also drafting the bills related to international practices?
The commission cannot draft the bill independently. However, we draft the bill on the recommendation of various ministries, including the law ministry. We don’t have the authority to table the draft of the bill in the parliament. The commission’s role is to submit the bill to the government as per their needs. First of all, concerned ministries themselves draft the bill as per their requirement. In case of serious and complicated acts, the ministries request us to draft them. Our scope is limited and our hands are tied. Because there is the need to take ownership of the bill, we also encourage the concerned ministry to decide the needs of legislation.
How is the state of the commission now?
Despite difficulties, we are drafting the bills. Now we have very well known former law secretaries taking the positions of chairman and vice chairman. This makes it easy for us to work. Otherwise, we have to depend on the political appointees, who do not have the necessary background of drafting the laws. This commission was defunct because of domination of political appointees in the past.
How frequently does the commission update its website?
We regularly update our website. The role of the commission is to update the laws and do the research. We also conduct research and study. We are doing a greater research on the right to privacy. We also do research for clarity.