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MPs in Nepal scrutinise decades-old laws invoked by Government to respond to COVID-19
In April 2020, as Nepal’s parliament is awaiting to be convened for its Summer (budget) Session and the country entered its sixth week of lockdown, some parliamentary committees resumed their business.
One of them is the Legislation Management Committee of the National Assembly (Upper House), which is conducting an urgent post-legislative scrutiny (PLS) inquiry into the Infectious Disease Act 1964 that the Government of Nepal has invoked to battle the virus, including through enforcing quarantine.
Post-legislative scrutiny (PLS) is the practice of monitoring the implementation, impact and consequences – both intended and unintended – of laws that have been passed.
The Chair of the Committee, Hon. Parsu Ram Meghi Gurung MP, announced the PLS inquiry on the 57-year-old act and ask for the public’s feedback in a video posted on the Committee’s Facebook page.
As part of its inquiry, the Committee will also study and analyse the Disaster Risk and Management Act 2017 which hasn’t been invoked but contains provisions relevant during pandemics such as one created by the new coronavirus. Given the urgency of the situation, the Committee plans to conduct a quick study of the laws and provisions related to fundamental rights stated in the Nepali constitution to provide recommendations and direction to the government.
In late April, at the invitation of the Committee, WFD’s Country Representative in Nepal, Dinesh Wagle, gave presentations to the members on conducting a post-legislative scrutiny inquiry, based on the Post Legislative Scrutiny: Guide for Parliaments by WFD’s Senior Governance Adviser Franklin De Vrieze.
This will be the Committee’s second post-legislative scrutiny inquiry. Last year, with support from the WFD, the Committee conducted the first ever PLS inquiry on the Social Practices (Reform) Act, 2033 (1976).
The Government of Nepal has invoked the Infectious Disease Act 1964 to battle coronavirus, including through enforcing quarantine. The Legislation Management Committee of the National Assembly has announced that it will conduct post-legislative scrutiny of the 57-year old law as part of its role to scrutinise government.
By Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the UK House of Commons and Patron of Westminster Foundation for Democracy