Too scared of impeachment to even discuss it?

Impeachment is the talk of the town.

The world is watching the United States, as the impeachment of President Donald Trump is underway.

In the Parliament here, tensions are building up.

The National Assembly members refused to deliberate on the Impeachment Procedure Bill for constitutional office bearers. The home minister said too many laws would not be healthy for society.

The Bill emerged from National Council as a private member’s Bill. Its 11 chapters detail procedure for impeachment, incorporating the principles of natural justice and establishment of the impeachment investigation committee.

While waiting for  National Assembly’s written response, some NC members consider the Bill passed, justifying that not deliberating on the Bill empowers them to now submit the Bill to His Majesty The King for assent.

Given the powers the Constitution vests on the constitutional office bearers, who are supposed to be the pinnacles of public trust and accountability, it must ensure they do not abuse their powers.

Impeachment is not about appointment. It’s a mechanism to enforce constitutional post holders accountable. It is an essential safeguard to protect the Constitution from inappropriate conduct of the constitutional post holders who might resort to criminal activities, come in conflict with laws and not live in accordance with the powers and privileges that come with the office.

The bill will also insulate them from potential arbitrary impeachment.

Save a case in 2013 where a private individual called for the impeachment of the former Chief Justice, a situation to impeach a constitutional post holder has not arisen till date but the situations could change in the future.

Our wise leaders, while enacting the Constitution and the Article on impeachment, stated no one could predict how individuals, the constitutional post holders, would behave once authority is given to them.

The national law review taskforce suggested the need for an Impeachment Act with detailed procedures for the conduct of impeachment proceedings.

It is, therefore, the Parliament’s responsibility to ensure a system of checks and balances. They have the power of impeachment through two-thirds of the majority votes.

But will our legislative body provide the required checks and balances? With MPs who do not even want to deliberate on the Impeachment Procedure Bill, how will they ever execute their judgement and check the functions of the constitutional office holders.

What we need in our impeachment discussions is to identify the roles of our MPs. We need Parliamentarians to deliberate and decide on the needs of the nation. Fence-sitting or cruising on the party politics could be worse.

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