Govt to withdraw controversial National Security Council Bill

Rabindra Adhikari

KATHMANDU, Sept 9: The government is preparing to withdraw the controversial National Security Council Bill amid criticisms and objections from stakeholders and political parties.

The Bill, registered at the parliament secretariat on March 13, was put on hold after it drew serious objections from various quarters of the society including the army.

The disputed bill allows Prime Minister to mobilize the Nepal Army at his indiscretion, and even without holding a Council meeting. The Council is chaired by Prime Minister and consists of Minister for Defence, Home Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, Chief Secretary and Nepal Army Commander-in-Chief as members.

Article 267 (6) of the Constitution of Nepal states that the President shall, on recommendation of the National Security Council and pursuant to a decision of the Government of Nepal, Council of Ministers, declare the mobilization of the Nepal Army in cases where a grave emergency arises in regard to the sovereignty or territorial integrity of Nepal or the security of any part thereof, by war, external aggression, armed rebellion or extreme economic disarray. A declaration of the mobilization of the Nepal Army must be ratified by the House of Representatives within one month after the date of such declaration.

But, the new provision gives Prime Minister sole authority to recommend the deployment of the army without prior recommendation from the Council and approval from the President.

Oppositions Nepali Congress (NC) and Rastriya Janta Party Nepal (RJPN) has called the bill unconstitutional and has accused the government of trying to become autocratic at the power of two-third majority while the Nepal Army has also expressed dissatisfaction over the proposed provision.

The Bill will be withdrawn within a few days and will be revised as per the recently updated National Security Policy, according to sources at the ministry.

Earlier, in June, the government had withdrawn controversial Guthi Bill after hundreds of thousands of pro-Guthi supporters took to the street demanding annulment of the bill.