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  • Introduction:

    The Parliament of Bhutan is the highest legislative body in the country. Its consists of the Druk Gyalpo, the National Council and the National Assembly. The National Council has both legislative and review functions and is also referred to as the House of Review.

    Establishment:

    • Established in 2008 under Article 11 of the Constitution of Bhutan.
    • The first joint sitting of Parliament was held from May 8-30, 2008.
    • The first session of the National Council was held in the Banquet Hall at Langjophakha from June 17 to July 24, 2008.

    Functions:

    Legislative Functions:

    • Initiate or prepare legislation except Money and Financial Bills;
    • Review and amend existing laws; and
    • Consider, pass, amend or reject any legislation passed by the National Assembly.

    Review Functions:

    • Review and comment on the policies, plans and programmes of the Government;
    • Review performance of the Government;
    • Review implementation of resolutions and laws passed by the Parliament; and
    • Review issues of national importance.

    Composition:

    The National Council has 25 members including 6 women: 

    • 20 members are directly elected by the people, one from each of the 20 dzongkhags; and 
    • 5 members are appointed by the Druk Gyalpo.

    Eligibility for elected members:

    • Is a citizen of Bhutan as evidenced by the citizenship identity card;
    • Is a registered voter of a Constituency;
    • Is of the minimum age of 25 years and maximum of 65 years at the time of filing nomination;
    • Possesses a formal university degree; and
    • Does not belong to any political party.

    Term of the National Council:

    • The National Council shall continue for five years from the date of its first sitting; and
    • Elections shall be held so that the House is re-constituted on the date of expiry of its term.

    Office & Privileges:

    • All members are equal in the National Council;
    • Enjoy freedom of speech and immunity from arrest during session; and
    • Receive pay and allowances as prescribed under the Parliamentary Entitlement Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan.

    Presiding Officer:

    The Chairperson, elected from amongst the members of the National Council, is the presiding officer.

    Duration of the Session:

    • The National Council meets twice a year; however special sessions may also be convened;
    • Duration of session is fixed according to the length and issue of the agenda.

    Procedure:

    The proceedings are regulated by the Rules of Procedure of the National Council and Rules of the Committees.

    Passing of Bills:

    • A Bill shall be introduced by a member with the concurrence of the National Council;
    • Money Bills and Financial Bills shall not originate in the National Council;
    • A Bill pending in the National Council shall not lapse by reason of prorogation of the National Council;
    • A Bill shall be passed by a simple majority of the total number of members of the National Council or by not less than two-third of the total number of members of both Houses present and voting, in the case of a joint sitting;
    • Where a Bill has been introduced and passed by the National Council, it shall present the Bill to the National Assembly within 30 days from the date of passing;
    • Where the Bill is subsequently passed by the National Assembly, the Bill shall be submitted to the Druk Gyalpo for Royal Assent within 15 days from the date passing such a Bill;
    • Where the National Assembly does not pass the Bill, it shall be returned to the National Council with amendments or objections for re-deliberation. If the Bill is then passed, it shall be submitted to the Druk Gyalpo for Royal Assent within 15 days from the date passing such a Bill;
    • Where the National Council refuses to incorporate the amendments or objections of the National Assembly, it shall submit the Bill to the Druk Gyalpo, who shall then command the Houses to deliberate and vote on the Bill in a joint sitting;
    • Where the National Assembly neither passes nor returns the Bill by the end of the next session from the date of presentation, the Bill shall be deemed to have been passed by it and the National Council shall present the Bill within 15 days to the Druk Gyalpo for Royal Assent;
    • In case of Budget and urgent Bills, they shall be passed in the ongoing session of the National Council.