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Law review taskforce recommends 29 Acts be amended

With the law review taskforce completing its assignment, the upcoming sessions of the Parliament are expected to be busy with legislative Bills.

The taskforce, formed under the chairmanship of the Attorney General, has recommended 29 Acts to be amended after a review of 126 Acts.

The taskforce has recommended 15 Acts for total repeal and eight for consolidation. Also, it has recommended eight new Bills for enactment.

The government has submitted all the recommendations of the taskforce to Parliament. The taskforce was instituted in 2015 to review and propose changes to harmonise conflicting provisions of laws with the Constitution and other laws.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo said that the recommendations of the taskforce would be taken up by the third Parliament.

Deputy chairperson of the National Council, Jigme Wangchuk, said that the house of review received the review report just before the beginning of the summer session. “We haven’t had time to review the report,” he said, adding that Parliament would work on the recommendations in coming sessions.

Presenting the State of the Nation in the Parliament recently, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the government had formed the taskforce to reduce the legislative burden on citizens.

The taskforce found some of the laws missing from archives.

The missing laws include the Life Insurance Act 1953-1959, the Stamp Act 1968, Tourism Act 1972, Customs Act 1980, and Law of Taxation 1980. Some laws were duplications such as the Nationality Law 1958 and the Citizenship Act 1985.

Among other recommendations, the taskforce proposed changes to harmonise the conflicting provisions of the electoral laws with the Constitution. A Supreme Court writ issued in August 2016 stated that the Election Act 2008, the Local Government Act should be harmonised with the Constitution.

Some provisions of the Acts are inconsistent with the Constitution. Some inconsistencies in the electoral laws and the Constitution surfaced during the local government elections in 2016, creating confusion for the election commission.

For instance, Article 24, section 5 of Constitution states that the National Assembly and local governments should be re-constituted within 90 days after they are dissolved either prematurely or on completion of their term. Only in the case of National Council, elections should be held before the expiry of their term.

On the contrary, Section 196 of the election Act 2008 states that the elections for local governments should be held to ensure that they are reconstituted by the end of their term.

Provisions of any law, whether made before or after the coming into force of the Constitution, which are inconsistent with Constitution, are considered null and void.

The Local Government Act 2009 classified dzongkhag thromdes into Classes A and B, but Parliament amended the Act in 2014. The amended Act provides for a dzongkhag thromde tshogde in each of all the dzongkhags, irrespective of the thromde’s size.

Besides the attorney general, members of the taskforce included Justice Lungten Dubgyur, Drangpon Ugyen Tshering, Drangpon Ramjam Tenzin, Lieutenant Tandin Penjore, Chief Attorney Sonam Tashi, private lawyer Yonten Dorji, and attorney Kesang Yangkey.

During the course of the review, the taskforce consulted the legislative committee of both the houses of the Parliament, local government leaders, and the judiciary.

During the last five years, Parliament enacted 13 new laws and amended nine. Parliament also ratified 11 international conventions.

MB Subba

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