Additional Tibetan parliament meeting postponed to May 24 amid controversies

8th session of 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. (Photo courtesy: TPiE)

(, May17’21) – An additional session of the outgoing, 16th Tibetan Parliament in Exile (TPiE) scheduled to be held on May 20 has been postponed to May 24, amid questions about its legality, viability, as well as ethical soundness.

A notice issued by the TPiE secretariat to the members on May 16 for this purpose does not state the purpose of the meeting. However, it is seen as being meant to elect new justice commissioners to the Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission (TSJC), including a Chief Justice Commissioner, and possibly to amend the Charter of Tibetans in Exile to make their assumption of office possible.

The election itself is mired in controversy on account of the questionable credentials of the initially known presumable members of the committee nominating the candidates.

And without a chief justice commissioner, the newly elected Sikyong cannot be sworn in on May 26; so also, ultimately, the newly elected members of the 17th Tibetan Parliament in exile at the end of the month.

Questions remain, however, whether the meeting is being called in keeping with the procedure and requirements prescribed by the Charter of Tibetans in Exile. The fact is, it is not. And, indeed, whether the meeting could be held at all.

Himachal Pradesh has declared an extension of the statewide curfew till May 26 in view of the seriously worsening Covid-19 pandemic situation, meaning the holding of the additional meeting will be illegal. The Charter of Tibetans in exile is particularly emphatic about the imperative to abide by the laws of the host country.

Members from countries outside India and even within the country will have trouble making it to Dharamshala due to bans on international flights and lockdowns as well as the suspension of public transport systems in the state. In fact, all travels within the state are banned unless excepted under the notice for the purpose while gatherings of more than 5 people are prohibited.

The notice says the postponement decision followed a meeting between the Standing Committee of the TPiE and the Kashag as well as two meetings of the standing committee held before and after the meeting with the Kashag.

The notice says the May 24 meeting will be preceded by a forum meeting of the TPiE members on May 23.

Members attending the meeting have to report to the TPiE secretariat by May 22. They will not be required to stay in quarantine. Rather, they will have to produce Covid-negative test results with their plane tickets.

The TPiE did not hold its Sep 2020 session by referring to the Covid-19 situation and the restrictions at that time. The TSJC queried about it because an online session could have been held and cancelling it was unconstitutional. But the Standing committee of the TPiE refused to act, leading to the imposition of a limited penal sanction on the 11 Standing Committee members.

Piqued by it, the TPiE sacked the entire panel of justice commissioners of the TSJC at its Mar 2021 session on fake grounds and without following the procedure prescribed by the Charter.

Now that the Covid-19 situation is so much worse than in Sep 2020, TPiE’s standing committee is bent on holding the additional session, whether legally or illegally, and whatever the Covid-19 restrictions may be.


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