KATHMANDU, March 15: Parliament´s plan to amend its regulations has hit a stumbling block as the largest ruling party UCPN (Maoist) has been lobbying for amendment to the regulations by excluding the case of Maoist lawmaker Balkrishna Dhungel who has been convicted by the Supreme Court (SC) of murder.
UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal at a meeting attended by leaders including Nepali Congress (NC) parliamentary party leader Ram Chandra Paudel and CPN-UML Chairman Jhalanath Khanal, chief whips of the major political parties urged the leaders not to amend the regulations in a way that would attract Dhungel´s case.
Several months back, parliament had formed a drafting committee to suggest legal provisions for taking action against lawmaker accused or convicted by a court for serious crimes like murder or abduction.
As the committee members were sharply divided over the draft proposal, the issue has been forwarded to the top political leadership for discussions.
At a meeting of top leaders on Tuesday, Maoist Chairman Dahal said that Dhungel´s case should be dealt politically. “We strongly opposed Dahal´s proposal to amend the regulations by ensuring that the new act wouldn´t attract Dhungel´s case,” a leader present at the meeting told Republica. “We urged him to not direct the committee members to draft the amendment proposal keeping a case of an individual in mind.”
But Dahal argued at the meeting that such political cases should be taken exceptionally given the transitional period.
In the five-member drafting committee, non-Maoist members -- Ramesh Lekhak of NC, Agni Kharel of UML, Janak Kumari Chalise of CPN-ML and Neelam Barma of Madhesi People´s Rights Forum-Republican -- have proposed a draft but the proposal couldn´t be endorsed as committee head Amrita Thapa Magar stood against it.
The four members in their proposal have suggested that any lawmaker, if s/he is accused of murder, shall be deprived of the rights and privileges entitled to a lawmaker while in police detention for investigation.
As per the proposal, any lawmaker shall be suspended from the post if s/he is sent to jail after a court´s judicial order or final verdict.
But the Maoist leaders are against the proposal. “Our argument is that the regulations should not be attracted in political cases. We are for settling political issues as per the spirit of the Comprehensive Peace Accord," Thapa Magar told Republica.
She argued that the political leadership should be ready to amend the regulations keeping in mind the country´s political reality. "Otherwise, this may create trouble any time in future because you don´t know how many cases have been filed against Maoist leaders and even against our chairman in various courts across the country,” she argued.
As the regulation is silent on punishing lawmakers for their involvement in criminal cases, Dhungel, convicted of murder, is not only walking freely but also attending parliament meetings.
Similarly, lawmaker Shyam Sundar Gupta, who has been accused of involvement in an abduction case and sent to jail, has not been suspended whereas some lawmakers accused of corruption have been suspended from their posts.