Kathmandu [Nepal], December 15 (ANI): Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has introduced an ordinance to amend the Constitutional Council Act ( Functions, Duties, and Procedures ) 2010, according to which a meeting of the council can be convened even if it falls short of the quorum required to convene the meeting.
The ordinance which has been approved by President Bidya Devi Bhandari within an hour after it being sent by PM Oli, gives him the right to convene meetings and make decisions even in presence of only three members.
The Constitutional Council is headed by the prime minister and includes the chief justice, Speaker and Deputy Speaker from House of Representatives, chairman of the National Assembly and leader of the main opposition as its members. The council makes recommendations for key appointments including in constitutional bodies, judiciary and foreign missions.
Before the ordinance was issued, it was mandatory for at least five members to be present in a meeting to make any decision. Though Constitutional Council has a quorum of six members, one position has remained vacant as parties have failed to elect a new deputy speaker.
Earlier on Sunday, Opposition leader Sher Bahadur Deuba informed about the premier's unavailability to attend the council meeting, which was automatically cancelled after the council failed to meet the quorum required to convene the meeting.
Another round of the meeting, called on Tuesday morning, was skipped by House Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota from the ruling party, acknowledging lack of preparations to attend the discussion. The meeting was assigned to make appointments in 45 different constitutional bodies which have remained vacant for a long time.
"The leader from the opposition party is present but House Speaker Agni Sapkota from the ruling party remains absent," Surya Thapa, Press Advisor to PM Oli said earlier on Tuesday.
Later in the afternoon, PM Oli conveyed an emergency meeting of the Council of Ministers to pass the ordinance and take it forward to President Bidya Devi Bhandari. It was later issued by the President on Tuesday afternoon, which comes in line with Article 114 (a) of the Constitution that requires the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.
Hours after the new ordinance was issued, the opposition Nepali Congress (NC) protested against the latest move by the government to amend the Constitutional Council (Functions, Duties, Powers and Procedures) Act, 2066 BS.
Opposition leader Deuba, who is also a member of the Constitutional Council, took to Twitter, calling the government's decision to issue the ordinance as 'undemocratic'.
"The ordinance has been issued even as the post of Deputy Speaker remains vacant. It is ridiculous to say that the Constitutional Council meeting lacked quorum even without taking the Speaker of the House of Representatives into confidence and bypassing the parliament session. It has exposed the tendency of totalitarianism. This is an undemocratic move and NC clearly disagrees with it," Deuba tweeted on Tuesday.
Deuba also has skipped the meeting of the Constitution Council which was called later on Tuesday evening after the ordinance was issued.
Alarmed by PM Oli's latest move amid rising intra-party rift, senior leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party have started separate consultations to plan their next steps. (ANI)