Committees formed to prepare business rules for the House of Representatives and National Assembly finalised rules provisioning that lawmakers accused of crime carrying jail term of three years or more would not face suspension.
Chair of House of Representatives Business Rules Drafting Committee Krishna Bhakta Pokharel said a lawmaker would be suspended only when s/he was convicted of a crime by the last tier of the court and sent to jail. “This means that if a lawmaker is accused of a crime carrying jail term of three years or more or is in judicial custody, the MP will not be suspended, but will be deprived of facilities that s/he is entitled to. Also, a convicted lawmaker cannot take part in parliamentary proceedings,” he added.
Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal lawmaker Laxman Lal Karna said he disagreed with the decision to deprive lawmakers accused of crime carrying jail term of three years or more of pay and perks. “Depriving a lawmaker of pay and perks without suspension is not logical,” he said. Karna also said the draft rules should clearly state that a lawmaker accused but not convicted of a crime should be allowed to take oath of office and secrecy, but other members argued that since the constitution had not barred accused lawmakers from taking oath of office and secrecy, it was not necessary to state this in the HoR Business Rules draft.
RJP-N lawmaker Resham Chaudhary who had been indicted in the Kailali carnage was sent to judicial custody. The RJP-N has been demanding that he be allowed to take oath of office and secrecy.
Chair of National Assembly Business Rules Drafting Committee Parshuram Meghi Gurung said the committee too decided to have similar provisions in the NA’s Business Rules draft regarding suspension of lawmakers accused of crime carrying jail term of three years or more. “A lawmaker convicted by the last tier of court will face suspension, but if a lawmaker is arrested or sent to judicial custody, s/he will not be suspended; but the lawmaker will neither get pay and perks nor be allowed to attend parliamentary proceedings. He said his committee also decided to determine the expiry of the term of NA members in the first round through lottery. In the first round, some NA members will retire after two years, some after four and some after six years. From the second round, all NA members will have six years term.
Gurung said it would be decided through lottery which lawmakers representing ‘women’ cluster and open category would have two, four and six years term. Three are elected under women’s cluster and three under open category from all provinces. He said the lottery would be slightly different for two clusters- ‘Dalit’ and ‘differently-abled or minority’ as only one member is elected under these two clusters from all provinces.
According to The Himalayan Times, there will be seven lotteries for ‘Dalit’ and seven for ‘differently-abled or minority’ taking into account their total representation in the House.
Lawmakers will have to draw lotteries mentioning ‘two, four and six years term, but one will have zero on the lottery. The lawmaker who picks lottery with zero marking will take part in the second round of lottery draw. Gurung said the House will decide through lottery within two weeks from the enactment of business rules who will have two, four and six years term.
One third of NA members will complete their term every two years.
The Nepali Congress opposed the majority’s decision to hold province-wise lottery draw for ‘women’ and ‘others’ clusters.