Council: Given the delay in implementation of Acts even after Parliament endorses it, National Council’s legislative committee recommended that an Act shall come into force upon assent of The Druk Gyalpo in line with Article 13 (1) of the Constitution for which a commencement date or a separate circular is not necessary to bring an Act into force.

Presenting the report on the implementation status of Acts passed by the Parliament yesterday, the committee also recommended that while tabling a bill in the Parliament, the agencies concerned should simultaneously draft relevant rules and regulations and the bill must be accompanied by a financial memorandum to ascertain the cost implications. Adequate budget, human resources and infrastructures must be provided to effectively implement the Act.

While seeking the National Council’s endorsement to provide the recommendations to the government, the committee observed that even after the enactment of Acts by the Parliament, the agencies concerned took more time in formulation of rules and regulations to fully implement the Act.

Committee chairperson Samtse’s councillor Sangay Khandu said that the average time taken for framing and adoption of rules and regulations following an enactment of Act is close to two years.

“Some Acts also took about six years for implementation while some were implemented without delay having adopted the rules and regulations in a few months,” he said, while presenting the report.

Citing the Education City Act 2012 and the Alternate Dispute Resolution Act 2013, Sangay Khandu reported that the two Acts were not implemented at all.

Although some agencies reported that the Acts have been implemented even without the rules and regulations, the committee observed that the sections that require subordinate legislations cannot be implemented so it was assumed that such Acts could not be fully implemented.

Sangay Khandu cited the example of the Road Act 2013 on the right of way for all national highways requiring a distance of 50 feet from the centerline of a road on either side. At the same time, the Act also states that the government may, if in its opinion it is necessary to provide and prescribe a right of way for dzongkhag roads by a notification in writing.

The committee reported that the clauses pertaining to the right of ways for dzongkhag roads and farm roads were not enforced until the Cabinet endorsed the road rules and regulations in May 2016.

Considering such issues, Sangay Khandu said that the local government officials were not able to determine and administer the road right of way while approving the construction approvals of houses in the dzongkhag and villages.

This led to discrepancies in the enforcement of law as some authorities imposed a blanket 50ft right of way for constructions of any houses along the sides of all type of roads, others approved constructions along the sides of roads without considering any right of way requirement in absence of a notification or regulations.

The delay in implementation of Acts were attributed to inadequate human resources, budget and infrastructures, requirement to submit the final draft to the board/commissions/committees resulting in either adoption or further review, time taken for comprehensive research works, consultative meetings and translations, among others.

Deliberating on the committee recommendations, some members pointed out the need for a time period to frame rules and regulations to implement the Acts while some were against it.

Bumthang’s councillor Nima said that Article 13 (I) of the Constitution and chapter 7 Section 98 of the National Council Act states that a bill once passed by Parliament and granted Royal Assent comes into force immediately.

“There is no time frame required for how and when to implement the Act that the Parliament has passed,” he said, adding that some Acts were explicit while some required rules and regulations to support them.

Zhemgang’s councillor Pema Dakpa said that clauses in some of the Acts were left flexible for which a time frame was necessary to draft the regulations to implement the Acts. “It’s important that the rules and regulations are drafted within five to six months and the copies should be sent to the agencies concerned and the Parliament members,” he said.

After the drafting of the regulations within the specified time period, Pema Dakpa said awareness on the Act was also necessary.

Gasa’s councillor Sangay Khandu was also against providing a time frame. “As soon as a law is passed as indicated by the Royal Assent, the rules and regulations must come in place,” he said. “And within the Acts itself, a certain grace period is provided in some cases which is justified.”

As for time required to consult people, he said people are consulted and the bills put up for feedback during the drafting stage.

The Legislative Committee was assigned the review work on the implementation status of Acts as per the resolution of the 35th Plenary Session of the Council in March last year. The committee then met and identified nine important Acts passed by the Parliament to be reviewed for its implementation status. The committee collected information on nine Acts and the relevant rules and regulations from the agencies concerned and reported it’s preliminary findings at the 37th plenary in April 2016 following which the house directed the committee to extend the review work to the Acts passed since 2008.

Given time constraints, the committee could review only 28 of the 36 Acts passed so far.

Kinga Dema