Microsoft Word - Committees Act.doc
THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMMITTEES ACT
THE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN, 2004
An Act to provide for the establishment of the National Assembly Committees to
deliberate, inquire, investigate, legislate, review and draw attention to any
important matter that are referred to them and to give advice for matters
connected therewith and incidental thereto.
Be it enacted by the National Assembly of Bhutan in the Wood Male Monkey
Month of the 14
Day, corresponding to 30
Day of 7
Month of the
Year 2004 during its 82
Session as follows, -
Short Title and Commencement
1. (1) This Act may be cited as the “National Assembly Committees
Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2004.”
(2) This Act shall come into force on the 14
Month of the
Wood Male Monkey Year, corresponding to 30
day of 7
Month of the Year 2004.
ESTABLISHMENT AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF LEGISLATIVE AND
PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEES
Establishment of Standing Committees
2. The National Assembly shall establish the following standing committees,
(1) the Legislative Committee; and
(2) the Public Accounts Committee.
Establishment of Legislative Committee
3. The Legislative Affairs Committee shall be established by issuing a
Standing Order or by Resolution of the National Assembly on the motion
raised by the members of the House.
Responsibility of the Legislative Committee
4. The Legislative Committee’s area of responsibility is, -
(1) to consider any Bill introduced into the House or submitted to the
Speaker and to report to the House as to whether the Bill, by express
words or otherwise, –
(a) trespass unduly upon individual rights or freedoms; or
(b) makes rights, freedoms or obligations dependent upon
insufficiently defined administrative powers; or
(c) makes rights, freedoms or obligations dependent upon non-
reviewable administrative decisions; or
(d) unduly requires or authorizes acts or practices that may have an
adverse effect on personal privacy/right to privacy; or
(e) inappropriately delegates legislative powers; or
(f) repeals, alters or varies any provisions of the Constitution, or
raises an issue as to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court;
(2) to perform such functions as are conferred on the committee by the
(3) to perform such functions as are conferred on the committee by other
(4) to review any Act where required so to do by or under this Act, in
accordance with terms of reference under which the Act is referred
to the committee;
(5) to inquire into, consider and report to the Parliament where required
or permitted so to do by or under this Act, on any proposal, matter or
thing concerned with legal, constitutional or Parliamentary reform or
with the administration of justice;
(6) to examine, report and make recommendations to the Parliament in
respect of any proposal or matter relating to law in Bhutan where
required so to do by or under this Act, in accordance with the terms of
reference under which the proposal is referred to the committee;
(7) to examine and verify the accuracy of the Dzongkha text and the
English text of each legislative bill so as to ensure the uniformity and
certainty of meaning;
(8) to perform such other functions as may be assigned by the National
Assembly from time to time;
(9) to examine whether the legislative bill is not contrary to the spirit of
the authorizing legislation.
Establishment of Public Accounts Committee
5. The Public Accounts Committee shall be established by issuing a Standing
Order or by Resolution of the National Assembly on the motion raised by
the members of the House.
Responsibility of Public Accounts Committee
6. The Public Accounts Committee shall assess the integrity, economy,
efficiency, transparency and effectiveness of Government financial
management by examining, -
(a) The accounts showing the appropriation of the sums granted by
the National Assembly to meet the expenditure of the Royal
Government of Bhutan;
(b) the various Audit Reports of the Auditor General on revenue
receipts, expenditure by various Ministries/Departments of Royal
Government and accounts of autonomous bodies;
(c) the cases involving losses, nugatory expenditure and financial
(d) the performances of all government corporations and agencies in
which public funds have been invested; and
(e) such other accounts as referred to it by the National Assembly.
POWER TO ESTABLISH AND FUNCTIONS OF OTHER COMMITTEES
Establishment of other Standing Committee(s)
7. The National Assembly may establish such other standing committees as
and when it finds necessary by issuing Standing Order or by passing
Resolution as the case may be.
Functions of other Standing Committee(s)
8. A committee shall discharge its responsibilities within the parameters set out
in the Standing Orders or in the Resolution of the House as the case may be.
Select or Ad Hoc or Special Committee(s)
9. (1) The National Assembly may establish select or ad hoc or special
committee(s) at any time by issuing the Standing Order or by
passing the Resolution specifying the committee’s composition,
responsibilities, terms of reference and powers.
(2) Such committee shall cease to exist at the end of a session or at
the dissolution of the House or after the presentation of its report
to the House.
10. (1) A committee may appoint one or more sub-committees with the
approval of the Speaker or by the order of the House.
(2) The committee so appointed shall have powers of the undivided
committee to exercise any matter that may be referred to them by
the Speaker or the House as the case may be.
(3) The whole Committee shall consider the reports of the sub-
(4) The reports of such sub-committee(s) shall be deemed to be the
report of the whole committee, if they are approved by the
sittings of the whole committee.
(5) The order of reference to a sub-committee shall clearly state the
point or points for investigation.
11. (1) A Joint Committee composed of members from both Houses
may be established by an Act of Parliament or by concurrent
resolution of both Houses.
(2) A joint committee shall have only such authority, and can
exercise only such powers, as have been conferred upon it by the
concurrent resolution of both Houses.
(3) A joint committee shall not transact its business unless a quorum
of the Members appointed by each House to serve on the
committee is present.
CONSTITUTION OF COMMITTEE AND OTHER RELATED MATTERS
Constitution of Committee
12. 1) A committee shall consist of not more than five members who
shall be appointed by the Speaker or elected by the House from
amongst its members.
(2) A minister shall not be elected as member of the committee, and
that if a member, after his election to a committee, is appointed a
minister he shall cease to be a member of the committee from the
date of such appointment.
Conflict of Interest
13. A Committee member who has the personal, pecuniary or direct interest that
may prejudicially affect the consideration of any matter to be considered by
the Committee shall not attend any Committee meeting on that matter so as
to avoid the possibility of prejudice.
Duration of Committee
14. (1) A Standing Committee shall be established for the whole term of
the National Assembly.
(2) The duration of a Committee shall, unless otherwise specified in
the Standing Order or in the resolution, not exceed one year.
Tenure of Members
15. (1) The tenure of a Committee member shall commence on the date
of appointment or election to the Committee and shall end with
the expiry of one year.
(2) The National Assembly or the Speaker may re-elect or re-appoint
the members after the expiry of their membership.
Quorum in the Committee
16. (1) The quorum to constitute a sitting of a Committee shall be two-
thirds of the total number of members of the Committee.
(2) If at anytime fixed for any sitting of the Committee, or if at
anytime during any such sitting, there is no quorum the
Chairperson of the committee shall either suspend the sitting
until there is a quorum or adjourn the sitting to some future date.
(3) When the committee has been adjourned in pursuance of sub-
section (2) on two successive dates fixed for the sitting of the
Committee, the Chairperson shall report the fact to the House or
to the Speaker as the case may be.
Resignation from Committee
17. (1) A member may resign his seat from the committee by writing
under his hand, addressed to the Speaker.
(2) The resignation shall take effect from the date of resignation
specified in the letter of the resignation.
(3) If the date from which the resignation should take effect is not
specified in the letter, the resignation shall take effect from the
date of the letter.
(4) If the resignation letter does not bear any date, the resignation
shall take effect from the date of the receipt of the letter in the
National Assembly Secretariat.
(5) If the reason stated in the letter of resignation is not justifiable
the Speaker may not accept the resignation and, if the Speaker
feels that a member shall be retained in the committee then he
may withhold such resignation but by giving a reasoned
justification in writing.
Discharge of Committee Members
18. (1) If a member is absent from two or more consecutive sitting of a
Committee without permission of the Chairperson, a motion may
be moved in the House for the discharge of such member from
the Committee or may be discharged by the Speaker as the case
(2) The Speaker or the House may discharge a member from the
Committee and appoint another member in his place.
Vacancy of Seats
19. (1) Casual vacancies in a Committee shall be filled in by
appointment or election by the House on a motion made by the
chairperson, or nomination by the Speaker as the case may be.
(2) Any member appointed, elected or nominated to fill such
vacancies shall hold office only for the un-expired portion of the
Absence and Related Matters
20. No member shall absent himself or herself from the service of the
Committee without leave, except in case of accident or sickness, and if any
member shall so absents himself or herself, the Speaker may take necessary
action and his or her per diem shall not be given.
COMMITTEE SITTINGS AND OTHER RELATTED MATTERS
Sittings of Committee
21. (1) The sittings of a committee shall be held on such date and at such
hour as the Chairperson of the committee may fix.
(2) If the Chairperson is not readily available, the Secretary- General
may fix the date and time of the sitting.
(3) In the case of Select or Joint Committee Bill, if the Chairperson
of the committee is not readily available, the Secretary-General
may in consultation with the minister concerned with the bill, fix
the time and date of the sitting.
Committee may sit whilst the House is in session
22. (1) A committee may sit while the House is in session.
(2) In case of a division being called in the House, the Chairperson
of the committee shall suspend the proceedings in the committee
for such time as will enable the members to vote in a division.
Closed Hearings or Private Sittings
23. (1) In general, the sittings or hearings of a committee shall be public.
(2) The sittings or hearings of a committee shall be held in private
only by two-thirds majority of the committee members.
(3) Any person, committee member, officials of the Government and
Secretariat who attends a private sitting or closed hearing of the
committee shall maintain the confidentiality of matters discussed
at the sitting.
Venue of sittings
24. (1) In general, the sittings of a committee shall be held within the
precincts of the House.
(2) If it becomes necessary to change the place of sitting outside the
House, the Chairperson of the committee shall refer the matter to
the Speaker and his decision shall be final.
Notice of Sittings
25. (1) The Secretary to the Committee shall serve the notice of each
sitting to the committee members before the actual sitting of the
committee, while the House is in session.
(2) The Secretary General shall serve the notice of sitting to the
committee members at least ten days before the actual sitting of
the committee, when the House is not in session.
Withdrawal of Strangers
26. All persons other than members of the committee and officers of the
National Assembly Secretariat shall withdraw, as directed by the
Chairperson, whenever the committee decides to deliberate in private.
Decisions and Voting in a Committee
27. (1) A committee shall make efforts to resolve every issue by
(2) If the consensus could not be reached, it shall be resolved by
Casting vote of a Chairperson
28. In case of a tie vote on any matter, the Chairperson or the deputy
Chairperson or the person acting as such shall have the casting vote.
POWER TO TAKE EVIDENCE, SUMMON WITNESS, CONFIDENTIALITY OF
EVIDENCE AND OTHER RELATED MATTERS
Power to take Evidence or call for Documents
29. (1) A witness may be summoned by an order signed by the
Secretary-General and such documents as are required for the use
in a committee.
(2) No document submitted to the committee shall be withdrawn or
altered without the knowledge or approval of the committee.
Power to send for Persons, Papers and Records
30. (1) A committee shall have power to send for person, papers and
records that are necessary for the matter of deliberation before it.
(2) If any question arises whether the evidence of the person or the
production of a document is relevant for the purpose of the
committee, the question shall be referred to the Speaker and his
decision shall be final.
(3) If the government declines to produce a document on the ground
that its disclosure would be prejudicial to the safety or interest of
the state, the matter may be referred to the House for deliberation
and taking appropriate decision.
Ministers not called before Committee
31. (1) A Minister shall not be called before the committee either to give
evidence or for consultation in connection with the bill.
(2) The Chairperson of the committee may, after its deliberations are
concluded, have an informal talk with the Minister concerned to
apprise him of,
(a) any matters of policy laid down by the Ministry with which
the committee does not fully agree; and
(b) any matters of secret and confidential nature which the
committee would not like to bring on record in its report.
Evidence on Oath
32. (1) A committee may administer oath or affirmation to a witness
examined before it.
(2) The form of oath or affirmation shall be as follows, -
“I ………swear in the name of Koenchho Sum solemnly affirm
that the evidence which I shall give in this case shall be true, that
I will conceal nothing, and that no part of my evidence shall be
Counsel for Witness
33. A committee may under the discretion of the Speaker permit a witness to
be heard by the counsel appointed by him and approved by the
Admission of Government Officials, Experts and other Persons
34. (1) With the permission of the Speaker, officials of the government,
experts, consultants or any other person may be admitted to the
Committee sittings to explain the technicalities of the matters
before the Committee.
(2) If it is a closed sitting, the provisions of Section 23 (3) shall bind
such officials, experts, consultants and any other person so
admitted to the sittings of the Committee.
Examination of Witness
35. A committee shall examine the witness before it in the following manner, -
(1) The committee shall, before a witness is called for examination,
decide the mode of procedure and the nature of the question that
may be asked to the witness.
(2) The Chairperson of the committee may first ask the witness such
question he may consider necessary with reference to subject
matter under consideration or any subject connected therewith.
(3) The Chairperson may call other members of the committee one
by one to ask any other question.
(4) A witness may be asked to place before the committee any other
relevant points that have not been covered and which a witness
thinks are essential to be placed before the committee. 9
(5) A verbatim record of the proceedings of a committee shall, when
a witness is summoned to give evidence, be kept.
(6) The evidence submitted before the committee may be made
available to all members of the committee.
Record of Decisions
36. The Secretary to the committee shall, under the direction of the Chairperson,
maintain the record of decisions of a committee and circulate it to the
members of the committee.
Confidentiality of Evidence, Report and Proceedings
37. (1) A committee may direct the Secretary to the Committee that the
whole or a part of the evidence or a summary thereof to be laid
on the table.
(2) No part of the evidence, oral or written, report or proceedings of
the committee, which has not been laid on the table, shall be
open to inspections by any one except under the authority of the
(3) The evidence submitted before a committee shall not be
published by any member of the committee or by any other
person until it has been laid on the table.
Provided that the Speaker may, in his discretion, direct that such
evidence be confidentially made available to members before it
is formally laid on the table.
Audio and Visual Recording of Committee Hearings
38. The Speaker shall administer a system subject to his direction and control
for complete and unedited audio and visual broadcasting and recording of
the proceedings of the Committee.
Live Broadcasting or Telecasting of Committee Proceedings
39. The Committee may broadcast and telecast its hearings with the approval of
the House and subject to rules and regulations issued by the Speaker.
COMMITTEE REPORTS, PRESENTATION OF REPORT AND
OTHER RELATED MATTERS
40. (1) Where the House has not fixed any time for the presentation of a
report by the committee, the report shall be presented within one
month of the date on which reference to the committee was
(2) The House may at any time, on a motion being made, direct that
the time for the presentation of the report by the committee be
extended to a date specified in the motion.
(3) If the committee could not submit a final Report on the specified
date, it shall submit a preliminary Report to the House.
(4) The Chairperson on behalf of the committee shall sign the report
of the committee.
(5) If the Chairperson is absent or is not readily available, the deputy
Chairperson shall sign the report of the committee.
(6) In the absence of both Chairperson and deputy Chairperson, the
committee shall appoint the qualified senior-most-member to
sign the report on behalf of the committee.
41. A committee may, if it thinks fit, make a special report on any matter that
arises or comes to light in the course of its work which it may consider
necessary to bring to the notice of the Speaker or the House, not
withstanding that such matter is not directly connected or is not incidental to
its terms of reference.
Presentation of Report
42. The report of a Committee shall be presented to the House by the
Chairperson or in his absence by the deputy Chairperson or in their absence
by the qualified senior-most-member of the Committee.
Printing, Publication or Circulation of Report
43. (1) The Speaker may, on a request being made to him and when the
House is in session, order the printing, publication or circulation
of a report of a Committee before its presentation to the House.
(2) In such case, the report shall be presented to the House during its
next session at the first convenient opportunity.
REFERENCE OF ISSUE AND MINISTERIAL RESPONSE TO REPORT
Reference of Issues
44. The Committee may refer issues within its area of responsibility to the
Auditor-General for consideration.
Ministerial Response to Reports
45. (1) This section shall apply if a report of a committee of the National
Assembly recommends the Government or a Minister should
take particular action, or not take particular action, about an
(2) The Minister who is responsible for the issue of the report shall
provide the National Assembly with a response.
(3) The response must set out, -
(a) any recommendations to be adopted, and the way and time
within which they will be carried out; and
(b) any recommendations not to be adopted and the reason for
not adopting them.
(4) The Minister shall table the response within three months after
the report is tabled.
(5) A Minister shall submit the final report of a particular action
within the time specified as per section 3 (a).
(6) If the House is not sitting, the Minister shall file the response or
the final report to the Secretary-General of the House for tabling
on the next sitting day.
PROROGATION, PRIVILEGES, BUSINESS AGENDA AND OTHER
RELATED MATTERS OF THE COMMITTEE
Business not to Lapse on Prorogation of the House
46. Any business pending before a Committee shall not lapse by reason of the
prorogation of the House and the Committee shall continue to function
notwithstanding such prorogation.
Unfinished Work of Committee
47. (1) A Committee, which is unable to complete its work before the
expiration of its term or before the dissolution of the House shall
report to the House that it has not been able to complete its work.
(2) Any preliminary report, memorandum or note that the
Committee may have taken shall be made available to the new
Privileges of Members and Proceedings
48. The Committee members and proceeding shall be protected in a manner
similar to the members and proceedings of the National Assembly so as to
enable them to perform their functions without fear or intimidation.
49. If the Standing Order or the Resolution of the House is silent on the matter,
the Secretary to the Committee shall prepare the agenda in consultation with
Committee Chair and circulate it to the members two days prior to the actual
sitting of the Committee.
Power to make Suggestions on Procedure
50. A Committee shall have power to pass resolution on matters of procedure
relating to that Committee for the consideration of the Speaker, who may
make such variations in procedure, as he may consider necessary.
APPOINTMENT OR ELECTION OF CHAIRPERSON, DEPUTY
AND SECRETARY TO THE COMMITTEE
Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson
51. (1) A Committee shall appoint or elect its Chairperson and deputy
Chairperson from amongst its members at its first meeting by
consensus or by majority vote, as the Committee deems fit and
proper, to preside over the meeting.
(2) In the absence of the Chairperson, the deputy Chairperson shall
preside over the meeting and perform other functions of the
(3) If both Chairperson and the deputy Chairperson are absent or not
readily available, the Committee shall appoint or elect one of the
qualified senior-most-members to act as the Chairperson for that
(4) If the deputy Speaker is a member of the Committee, he shall be
appointed as the Chairperson of the Committee.
Secretary to the Committee
52. (1) The Secretary-General to the National Assembly shall appoint a
Secretary to the Committee within the parameters set out by the
Standing Order or by the Resolution of the National Assembly to
provide with procedural advice and secretarial support to the
(2) The Secretary to the Committee shall ensure proper preparation,
distribution and recording of agenda and minutes of the
Power to Make Detailed Rules
53. A Committee may with the approval of the Speaker frame and adopt internal
rules of procedure to govern the proper discharge of its functions under this
Act. It shall come into force on the day of approval by the Speaker.
Power of the Speaker to give Directions
54. (1) The Speaker may from time to time issue such directions to the
Chairperson of the Committee, as he may deem necessary for
regulating its procedure and organization of its works.
(2) If any doubt arises on any point of procedure, the Chairperson
may refer the point to the Speaker whose decision shall be final.
Applicability of General Rules to Committee
55. (1) Unless there is a special provision made to any particular
Committee, the Rules of Procedure of the House shall apply to
(2) In case of inconsistency between the special rules relating to a
Committee and the general rules enshrined in the Rules of
Procedure of the House, the former shall prevail.
56. (1) If any committee is required to meet while the National
Assembly is not in session, a committee member shall be entitled
to sitting fees as per the applicable rules and regulations; and
(2) the Daily Allowance and Travel Allowance for any journey
performed in connection with a meeting of the Committee.
57. A Committee shall conduct all its business in national language, Dzongkha.
58. This Act shall be amended as and when required to do so by the National
Assembly of Bhutan.
59. In case of difference in interpretation between the Dzongkha text and
English text, the Dzongkha text shall prevail.
60. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, -
(1) “Bill” means the Act after its enactment by the National
(2) “Chairperson” means the Chairperson of a committee of the
(3) “Deputy Chairperson” means the Deputy Chairperson of a
Committee of the National Assembly;
(4) “Committee” means the Committee of the National Assembly
and it includes the Standing Committees;
(5) “Committee member” means the Committee member of the
National Assembly and includes the member of a Joint
(6) “Majority vote” means a simple majority vote of the committee
members present and voting;
(7) “Member” means a Member of the National Assembly;
(8) “Secretariat” means the Secretariat of the National Assembly;
(9) “Speaker” means the Speaker of the National Assembly;
(10) “Secretary-General” means the Secretary-General of the National
(11) “House” means the National Assembly;
(12) “Table” means the table of the National Assembly;
(13) “Precincts of the House” means the committee rooms and
includes the Chamber, the lobbies, the galleries and such other
places as the Speaker may from time to time specify;
(14) “Officials of the Government” means the civil servants and any
(15) “Houses” means the National Advisory Council and the National
(16) “Witness” means and include any person summoned by a
committee to attend its meeting in connection with the matter
(17) “Parliament” means the National Advisory Council and the
Statement of Objects and Reasons
In accordance with the farsighted vision and policy of decentralization of His
Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck and keeping
with the change in time and rapid socio-economic development in the country, it
is high time that like many deliberative assemblies, the National Assembly of
Bhutan also finds it useful to delegate responsibility for certain tasks to small
groups. The National Assembly may refer a particular matter to a committee if the
matter warrants detailed examination, if the Parliament wants more information,
or if it wants to hear views on the matter. These tasks are more easily undertaken
by a small group of committee members rather than by the members of the
National Assembly as a whole.
Committees encourage and enable the National Assembly members to develop
special interests and expertise in particular aspects of public policy. They also
provide an opportunity for organisations and individuals to make representations
to the National Assembly and to have their views placed on the public record.
They investigate, legislate, review and draw attention to any important matter that
are referred to them and give advice.
Standing Committees are permanent committees established under the National
Assembly’s Standing Orders or by resolution of the House for the duration of a
Parliament. They are usually re-established at the beginning of each new
Parliament and can continue to function until the end of the day before the
commencement of the next Parliament. When there is a double dissolution all
committees of both Houses cease.
Standing committees permit a continuing surveillance of defined fields of
government activity, call upon scholarly research and advice and create an
awareness of the Assembly’s ‘watchdog’ function. In order to materialize those
objectives mentioned above, the National Assembly Committees Bill has been
drafted by the National Assembly Secretariat and scrutinized by the Legislative
Committee. The bill is to be tabled before the 82
Session in compliance with the
resolution passed by the National Assembly in its 81