Legislature: The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile
Instituted in 1960, the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile is the highest legislative organ of the Tibetan refugee community. The creation of this democratically elected body has been one of the major changes that His Holiness the Dalai Lama has brought about in his efforts to introduce a democratic system of administration. The Parliament consists of 46 members. U-Tsang, Do-tod and Do-med, the three traditional provinces of Tibet, elect ten members each, while the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and the traditional Bon faith elect two members each. Three members are elected by Tibetans in the west: two from Europe and one from North America. In addition, one to three members with distinction in the fields of art, science, literature and community service are nominated directly by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile is headed by a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker, who are elected by the members amongst themselves. Any Tibetan who has reached the age of 25 has the right to contest elections to the Parliament. The elections are held every five years and any Tibetan who has reached the age of 18 is entitled to vote.
Sessions of the Parliament are held twice every year, with an interval of six months between the sessions. However, His Holiness can summon special sessions of the Parliament in the case of national emergencies. When the Parliament is not in session, there is a standing committee of twelve members: two members from each province, one member from each religious denomination, and one member who is directly nominated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
As representatives of the people, the members of the Parliament undertake periodic tours of Tibetan communities to make an assessment of their overall conditions. On their return from these trips, they bring to the notice of the administration any specific grievances and matters needing attention.
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile keeps in touch with people also through Local Parliaments established in 38 major Tibetan communities. The Charter provides for the establishment of a Local Parliament in a community having a population of not less than 160. The Local Parliaments are scaled-down replicas of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile. They keep an eye on the activities of their respective settlement/welfare officers. They also make laws for their respective communities according to the latter?s felt-needs. The laws passed by the Local Parliament must be implemented by the respective settlement/welfare officer.