Parliament: The National Council (NC) is currently reviewing 12 major legislative and policy issues.

One of the major reviews being undertaken by the House is with respect to harmonisation of laws. The House is also tracking implementation of Acts as it was found that some agencies take up to six years to implement a law after its enactment.

This has resulted in undue delay and discrepancies in the implementation of the clauses that require subordinate legislations.

The writ issued recently by the Supreme Court, asking the Election Commission of Bhutan to defer elections in 16 thromdes and 20 yenlag thromdes was a result of inconsistencies in electoral laws and the Constitution.

Speaking at the NC’s third press conference yesterday in Thimphu, Spokesperson Tshering Dorji said the writ was a required intervention that will benefit  democracy in the long run. “We pointed out some of the inconsistencies in the laws in our past discussions,” he said.

Tshering Dorji, who is also the Deputy Chairperson of the House, hailed the role of media in promotion of democracy through information dissemination. He said the House will interact with journalists on a regular basis.

The House is reviewing issues related to education, agriculture, teenage pregnancy, consensual sex and sexual harassment, among other issues.

The legislative committee has proposed an amendment to some provisions of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2011 pertaining to consensual sex of children below 18 years of age. Many members are in support of an amendment.

Further research will be carried out to authenticate how many and to what extent such cases have aggrieved people in society.

A special committee has been constituted to review issues related to the quality of education. Findings of the committee will be presented to the House in the 18th session.

The Spokesperson said the NC is always in session as Parliament in general and the NC conducts most of its business through committees. “Since then, the committees have been conducting a series of meetings with concerned agencies and stakeholders to have a deeper understanding of the issues at hand,” he said.

The committees have been periodically reporting on the status and progress of their works to the House.

The House is also reviewing the controversial Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement. The agreement, which was passed by the National Assembly recently, aims to facilitate and regulate the cross-border movement of vehicles within the sub-region.

The NC’s legislative committee is currently in consultation with stakeholders and will come up with a report that will be presented in the winter session.

Since the conclusion of the formal siting of the 17th session, the committees have concluded 49 meetings with various stakeholders apart from plenary sessions. The Spokesperson said relevant committee meetings and fortnightly plenary sessions will continue till the commencement of the next session.

Some committees have moved a motion for amendment some laws and drawn attention of the House on certain issues that have impacted the public. Others sought further directives and guidance on their on-going assignments from the plenary.

MB Subba