Time for Law

The National Council has been saying something Important for a while now.
The members said in the last session that Bills be shared with the parliamentarians three months before the session in which it will be discussed, so that they get a good time to really scrutinize them.
It is an important requirement, and obviously possible.
Today they raised a similar issue regarding international conventions, that rather than examine them and check if they comply with the constitution, which in Bhutan is the Supreme Law DURING the parliamentary session, most likely after the country has already become a signatory to the convention, parliamentary committees be allowed to work on the convention during the signing/negotiation process, so that any inconsistencies would be ironed out, and that the ratification would only be a formality during the session rather than a time consuming scrutiny.
I don’t know how much the three month thing is being followed. But when the date of the fourth session was declared a month ago, the NA secretariat seemed to be saying that new Bills then would be accepted, meaning that the three month thing may not be seriously considered by those responsible.
But I think it is important to release the Bills a good time before they are discussed in the parliament.
The NC also said in this session that they would like to include the public in the discussion as much as possible.
If the bills are released in good time, they can be debated within the public sphere so that a general idea on the public opinion is heard, along with all arguments and counter arguments. That would be true democracy, now.
Right now……getting hold of final drafts of bills are tough. Agencies tell us that it is not possible to release the bills before the parliament receives them. Even when the drafts are shared, a request to not quote from the bill comes along with the copy.
I fail to understand this continuing policy of secrecy while there is increasing talk of transparency. The bills do not need to be secret. After all, they will be publicly discussed in a few months, and they are laws, which we, the people must abide by. We MUST have more say in the way our laws are being formulated.


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