Uncertainty looms large as Tibetan parliament fails to meet quorum for additional session

DHARAMSALA, 23 May: A political cloud of uncertainty now looms large over the Tibetan government in exile officially know as the Central Tibetan Administration after the Tibetan parliament failed to meet the quorum for an additional session scheduled on Monday.

“As only 21 members of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-exile(TPIE ) were able to attend the additional session of the house that falls way short of the quorum, the standing committee had to call off the additional session,” the Tibetan Parliament Secretariat has announced on Saturday.

Apart from the 21 MPs who confirmed their attendance for the additional session, another 21 MPs have sought leave from the session as of 22 May, the Secretariat stated.

Of the lot, 18 MPs have sought leave of absence and 2 sick leaves while an MP based abroad has sought leave owing to the challenges in making the trip owing to the spike in Covid -19 cases in India.

Additionally, the notice stated that 3 MPs were undecided as they haven’t given a clear response over their attendance.

In April, the TPIE announced an additional session of the house on 20th May 2021 for a day which was later postponed to 24 May.

At the additional session of the 16th TPIE, announced in accordance with Article 41 of the Charter of Tibetans-in-Exile the Tibetan MPs were to appoint a new Chief Justice Commissioner and the two Justice Commissioners of the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission(TSJC) and further deliberate on the ramifications that came about with their removal. 

The Chief Justice Commissioner and the two Justice Commissioners of the TSJC were impeached by the parliament by passing an official motion in the house for the trio’s impeachment in accordance with Clause (IV), Article (63) of the Charter of Tibetans in exile earlier on 25th March. 

This now caused a political uncertainty with many questions now lying without answers as to who will now administer the oath of office to Sikyong elect former Speaker Penpa Tsering for the political head of the CTA and above all, who will now assume the charge of the vacant seats of the Chief Justice Commissioner and the two Justice Commissioners of the TSJC.

As India continues to reel under the deadly second wave of COVID-19 and May being already declared the deadliest month of the pandemic in India, the restrictions across India the severity of which differs from region to region based on how bad a state is being hit by the pandemic may have party affected the Tibetan MPs attendance for the session. Himachal presently is under corona curfew till 26 May.

However, former Kalon(Minister) Tsering Phuntsok, who was one of the three committee members constituted to nominate candidates for the posts of the chief justice Commissioner and the two other justice commissioners of the TSJC has on 22 May stated that in spite of their best efforts they couldn’t nominate any candidate. 

Kalon Tsering Phuntsok, who along with former chief justice commissioner Jadur Sonam Sangpo and former Kalon Pema Chenjor constituted the three-member committee acknowledges defeat in finding any nominations for the vacant seats at the TSJC in an interview on CTA’s  Tibet Tv. 

“We met through online meetings to discuss and find candidates but in spite of our best efforts, we failed to do so,” he said and attributed the pandemic that originated from Wuhan, China, and the deliberations and discussions over the legality of the parliament’s decision on the removal of the Justices. 

The former Kalon lamented that some former CTA civil servants commented over the issue without any consideration about its consequences.

It now remains to see how the 60-year-old exile Tibetan Democracy weathers the storm of political uncertainty that it faces.

On 2 September 1960, the first Commission of Tibetan People’s Deputies from religious and provincial constituencies took their oath before His Holiness the Dalai Lama, thereby, formally inaugurating the Tibetan democratic system of governance.

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