By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 30 May 2021
The new members elected to the 17th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile will take oath as members of parliament before a Pro-tem Speaker on 8 June to officially start their five-year term.
Dawa Tsering, a member elected from U-Tsang province, has been appointed as the Pro-tem Speaker according to the Tibetan Charter Article 47 as the longest-serving member elected to the new parliament.
He will take oath as the Pro-tem Speaker before the Chief Justice Sonam Norbu Dagpo, and will then administer the oath of office to 44 new members of the house.
In view of the on-going coronavirus pandemic, the swearing-in of the members of the parliament have been postponed from 30 May to the new date of 8 June.
The Central Tibetan Administration based in McLeod Ganj within the Dharamshala Municipality is in the worst-hit district in the state of Himachal Pradesh.
The state government extended the Corona Curfew till 7 June, while giving some relaxations effective from 31 May. The restrictions include gathering of more than four people at one location.
Meanwhile, Tibet Sun has reliably learned that a few Kham and religious members have planned to refuse taking oath from the Pro-tem Speaker in protest against the Chief Justice and the other two other justice commissioners.
It wasn’t clear how many of them were refusing but their allegation is that the justice commissioners resumed their duties unlawfully. They allege that the three had been expelled by a two-third members of the 16th parliament on 25 March.
Those who are planning to refuse say that by taking oath before a Pro-tem Speaker who had been sworn in by an unlawful Chief Justice will invalidate their oath. They have reportedly proposed to take oath before a portrait of the Dalai Lama instead.
However, the other members that they have confided the idea had rejected their suggestion, as that would be violating the Charter, as there isn’t such a provision.
After the dismissal of the Chief Justice and the other two justice commissioners, it came to light that the parliament’s decision had violated the Article 54 of the Charter, that the due process was not followed to impeach and dismiss the justice Commissioners.
The very ground of the impeachment that the justice commissioners interfered in the business of the House was a faulty one, when the parliament cited Article 58 that relates to prohibiting the justice commissioners from questioning the validity of any proceedings or any decisions taken by the Parliament.
It has been argued that the justice commissioners had not questioned the business of the house when they took a suo moto initiative to question the parliament about cancelling a session in September last year.
Rather, the justice commissioners took the suo moto initiative to protect the Charter, and the decision wasn’t in purview of Article 58.
According to Article 40 of the Tibetan Charter, it was required that a parliament session be held every six months. The Speaker, Deputy Speaker and nine Standing Committee members were penalised by revoking their voting rights for six months for deciding to cancel the September session.
It remains to be seen if the Election Commission would invite members in the waiting list to take the place of those who refuse to take oath, as that would be the option should there be such a development.
If those members stick to their plan to refuse oath, that may cause delay in the process of forming the new house. If it goes according to the schedule, the new members of the parliament will elect a new Speaker and a Deputy Speaker in the second half of 8 June.
There could be a session led by the new Speaker in the next two days during which the new Sikyong Penpa Tsering will propose names of his Cabinet ministers (Kalons) to be approved by the parliament.