Committee Act, 2004

Link to law: http://www.nationalcouncil.bt/assets/uploads/docs/acts/2014/Committee_Act_2004Eng.pdf

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THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY COMMITTEES ACT

OF

THE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN, 2004

Preamble

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

Year, 6
th

Month of the 14
th

Day, corresponding to 30
th

Day of 7
th

Month of the

Year 2004 during its 82
nd

Session as follows, -

CHAPTER I

PRELIMINARY

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
th

Day, 6
th

Month of the

Wood Male Monkey Year, corresponding to 30
th

day of 7
th

Month of the Year 2004.

CHAPTER II

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

subordinate legislations;

(3) to perform such functions as are conferred on the committee by other

relevant Acts;

(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

irregularities;

(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.

CHAPTER III

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.

Sub-committee(s)

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-

committee(s).

(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.

Joint Committee(s)

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.

CHAPTER IV

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

may be.

(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

term.

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.

CHAPTER V

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

consensus.

(2) If the consensus could not be reached, it shall be resolved by

majority vote.

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.

CHAPTER VI

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

false.”

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

committee.

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

Speaker.

(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.

CHAPTER VII

COMMITTEE REPORTS, PRESENTATION OF REPORT AND

OTHER RELATED MATTERS

Committee Report

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

made.

(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.

Special Report

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.

CHAPTER VIII

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

issue.

(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.

CHAPTER IX

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

Committee.

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.

Business Agenda

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.

CHAPTER X

APPOINTMENT OR ELECTION OF CHAIRPERSON, DEPUTY

CHAIRPERSON

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

Chair.

(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

particular sitting.

(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

Committee.

(2) The Secretary to the Committee shall ensure proper preparation,

distribution and recording of agenda and minutes of the

Committee.

CHAPTER XI

MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

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

all Committees.

(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.

Special Allowance

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.

Language

57. A Committee shall conduct all its business in national language, Dzongkha.

Amendment

58. This Act shall be amended as and when required to do so by the National

Assembly of Bhutan.

Authoritative Text

59. In case of difference in interpretation between the Dzongkha text and

English text, the Dzongkha text shall prevail.

Definitions

60. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires, -

(1) “Bill” means the Act after its enactment by the National

Assembly.

(2) “Chairperson” means the Chairperson of a committee of the

National Assembly;

(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

Committee;

(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

Assembly;

(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

other officials;

(15) “Houses” means the National Advisory Council and the National

Assembly;

(16) “Witness” means and include any person summoned by a

committee to attend its meeting in connection with the matter

under deliberation.

(17) “Parliament” means the National Advisory Council and the

National Assembly.

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
nd

Session in compliance with the

resolution passed by the National Assembly in its 81
st

Session.