Former DPT president’s sudden departure has warranted amendment of the NA Act
Assembly: Focus once again shifted on whether National Assembly members can resign and on what grounds, with the house taking up the amendment of National Assembly Act yesterday.
The subject was also deliberated during Parliament’s first session last year, following resignation of former Druk Phuensum Tshogpa president soon after his election.
Seeing a need to straighten certain issues, the amendment of the Act was taken up.
Legislative committee member Ritu Raj Chhetri reported to the House yesterday that, after detailed study of international practices, nowhere was it mentioned that elected members could not resign.
He said disallowing members from resigning could invite more problems that would appear “restrictive” and be interpreted as a violation of fundamental rights.
“However, allowing resignation could do more damage than good,” he said.
He said the resignation provision could lead to dissolution of a government if formed by a narrow margin.
“What would happen if there’s a difference of three or four members and they decide to resign for various reasons?” he said, adding it was a problem even in the case of the opposition, if everyone decided to resign at once.
He said the resignation clause had to be looked into, considering the trust and support people rendered to get the person elected.
“On the other hand, government spends substantial amounts to conduct elections,” he said, adding re-elections to fill vacancies meant more cost.
While the house will delve into details in the coming days, the legislative committee proposed new sections that stated an elected member, who submits “voluntary resignation before assuming his responsibilities”, will have to refund the campaign fund for the general elections.
Beyond that, it was stated that an elected member might submit voluntary resignation on grounds of physical disability or mental incapacity.
To this, Wamrong’s representative Karma Tenzin said returning election fund, which would amount to Nu 130,000 today, was too small a fee, when millions were spent to conduct elections in one constituency.
He said a person resigning before taking oath indicated he or she had contested the elections for personal gains and had not considered the good of the country and its people.
“Although this has happened for the first time, we’ve to prevent similar things from occurring in future,” he said.
In the first place, he said it was important to determine whether the person could really resign before assuming office. If so, he said they should also see if such a person should be allowed to partake in future elections.
Meanwhile, the house also decided to merge the Speaker’s Act and Committee’s Act of 2004 with the Assembly Act, which would automatically repeal the first two.
Legislative committee member Ugyen Wangdi said considering the country’s transition to democracy, the two Acts were irrelevant.
“With a separate speaker’s Act, it would also appear like there was a need for council chairperson’s Act or a prime minister’s Act,” he said.
The committee has already proposed new sections pertaining to speaker’s elections, powers and functions, among others, in the Assembly amendment bill.
By Kesang Dema