In the 33rd sitting of the National Council (NC), with 22 members present and voting the House collectively decided to withdraw the Impeachment Procedure Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2019 with the statements of reasons as proposed by the Natural Resources & Environment Committee (NREC).
The Chairperson of the NC, Tashi Dorji, decided to initiate the discussion with the Speaker of the NA before deciding on the Bill to have a harmoniously parliamentary procedure. However, the NA refused to discuss the bill and the NA failed to complete the legislative process as they decided not to discuss the bill in their first study of the bill. Chairperson of NREC, Tashi Samdrup said that the rationale that NA presented was not convincing for the committee. He said that though the NC can request for a joint sitting of parliament it cannot happen as NA had rejected the bill at first reading. The impeachment bill was passed in the 23rd session of NC and forwarded to NA.
However, the house withdrew the impeachment as recommended by the National Assembly with certain reasons by NREC. Additionally, the NC does not see it proper to seek approval of His Majesty the King for convening a joint sitting when one house has already rejected the bill. Moreover, the NC is not convinced that the steps laid out in the Legislative Rules of Procedure have been complete and followed in the letter and spirit by the National Assembly.
There is hence the need to find out a clear path to avoid such instances repeating in the future. Chairperson of NREC said that the two Houses should discuss to review the bill as the time and resources spent on the bill would be a waste if the bill is not revised again in the near future. On other hand, Chukha MP, Sangay Dorji, supported the withdrawal of the impeachment bill saying that it could proceed further in the future. Thus the members also supported the statements of withdrawal as proposed by the Committee and the House adopted the withdrawal of the Bill for later endorsement.
NC to Seek Supreme Court’s Opinion on Entitlement Bill
In addition, NC will seek the Supreme Court’s opinion on the constitutionality of the NA’s decision to reject the Minister and Minister equivalent Post Holder’s Entitlement Bill 2019. “We shall seek the opinion of the Supreme Court to confirm our opinion and the National Assembly’s decision of rejection has violated the constitution and the legislative rules of procedure,” legislative committee chair, Choining Dorji said.
NC Deputy Chairperson Jigme Wangchuk said that it had led to such a situation due to the NA’s decision. “Forwarding of matters to Supreme Court happens if the issues are difficult to solve but it is unfortunate that such a situation has come,” he added.
The House of review is of the view that the bill passed by one of the House must be deliberated by the other House but it did not happen as NA rejected the bill.
Tenzin Lhamo from Thimphu