Following much deliberation, the National Assembly (NA) Amendment bill of Bhutan 2014 has been passed by the house on January 30; earlier this week, the NA’s Legislative Committee moved the motion for the third reading of the bill on January 28.
The amendment bill was passed after a majority of 30 NA members voted ‘Yes’ with 13 NA members voting against it, out of a total of 46 members present.
Following the resignation of former Prime Minister Jigmi Y Thinley, who was one of the 15 Druk Phuensum Tshogpa candidates elected in the recent general elections to form the Opposition, the topic was also discussed during the Parliament’s first session last year.
A new provision in the bill, Section 19.1 states that an elected member who submits voluntary resignation before assuming his/ her responsibilities shall refund the campaign fund received for the general election from the election commission.
With regard to the particular section, the Home Minister, Damchoe Dorji, urged to strengthen it by replacing the word ‘shall’ with ‘have to’ as it would be more appropriate and understandable. This means it is mandatory for an elected member to refund the campaign fund before submitting a voluntary resignation.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Drujeygang-Tseza constituency, Karma Dorji, opined that an elected member should be allowed to resign on strong grounds such as physical disability or mental incapacity.
Notwithstanding Section 19(1), the bill already allows an elected member to submit voluntary resignation on the grounds of physical disability or mental incapacity. Deputy Chairperson of the house’s Legislative Committee, MP Ritu Raj Chettri, said detailed studies of international practices revealed there was no rule which said an elected member cannot resign although allowing it could do more damage than good. He cited an example where a government could be dissolved if formed by a thin margin and several elected members choose to resign.