Speaker Jigme Zangpo has informed the National Assembly’s house committee members in writing that their recent decision to dissolve the committee has violated the National Assembly (NA) Act and the Rules of Procedure (RoP).

The letter, which was issued yesterday, asked the committee members, who wish to resign to inform him with reasons by August 10.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo stated in the letter that committee members should respect the RoP and the National Assembly Act. He stated that neither the committee nor the Speaker has the authority to dissolve the committee. Citing Section 354 of the RoP, he said that only the House has the authority to establish new committees or remove committees when deemed necessary.

He stated that the committee should be continued until the House dissolves. “But the committee members didn’t adhere to the laws and rules and showed no respect to the House and the Speaker,” he said in the letter.

Section 266 of the National Assembly Act states that members shall at all times conduct themselves in a courteous and respectful manner and shall respect the authority of the Speaker.

He also cited Section 275, which states that a member shall at all times conduct himself or herself in a manner which will maintain and strengthen public trust and confidence in the integrity of the National Assembly and never undertake any action which would bring the House into disrepute.

“Members should respect the code of conduct and the Speaker’s authority to keep public trust,” he stated. “Members have acted in violation of the laws and RoP.”

The house committee, the Speaker in the letter stated, has to be given continuity since it has many administrative and management tasks to carry out. Citing Section 312 of RoP, the Speaker stated that the House should elect the members of the committee.

On July 14, the house committee meeting decided to dissolve the committee, which the Speaker has stated was against the National Assembly Act and the RoP.

He said that the committee was formed according to Section 10(11) of the Constitution, which states, “Both Houses shall determine their rules of procedure, and the proceedings of each House shall be conducted in accordance with its own rules. The rules of procedure in each House shall provide for the appointment of committees to carry out the business of Parliament.”

As per Section 309 of the RoP, committees shall be established to perform the functions of the National Assembly in a more effective manner.

The Speaker stated that the committee should work as per the directives of the Speaker and the House. “All the members know this very well,” he stated.

According to Sections 311 of RoP, a committee shall work in accordance with its Terms of Reference or for such matters as the Speaker or the National Assembly may direct from time to time. Section 346 of RoP states that the Speaker may issue directions to a committee for regulating its procedure and the organisation of its work.

The members had decided to dissolve the house committee following alleged grievances against the Speaker and the National Assembly Secretary General.

However, the committee chairperson MP Karma Tenzin, who met Kuensel twice on July 18 and 19 after it published the story on the committee’s decision, claimed that the decision to dissolve the committee “temporarily” was taken so that it could be reconstituted. The chairperson had tendered his resignation from the committee on July 12.

It was learnt that he was not present when the committee met on July 14.

The committee called an emergency meeting on July 18. The house committee is the apex committee of the National Assembly. The committee elects a chairperson annually on a rotational basis.

The house committee considers all trainings, seminars, conferences, study tours and other human resource related matters of the members of the Assembly. Unlike other committees, the house committee deals with all matters related to Assembly members.

It represents all members of the Assembly and reports their administration problems to the Secretariat. The committee also looks into problems and welfare of Assembly members and considers all issues raised by the non-committee members.

Kengkhar-Weringla MP Rinzin Jamtsho, Nganglam MP Choida Jamtsho and Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi represent the opposition in the committee.

Members from the ruling party comprise include Khamdang Ramjar MP Sonam Dondup Dorjee, Chumey-Ura MP Tshewang Jurmi, Nyishog Saephu MP Kuenga, Mendrelgang MP Yogesh Tamang, Talo-Kabji MP Dophu Dukpa, Chukha MP Rinzin Dorji and Tashichhoeling MP Ritu Raj Chhetri.

MB Subba