Happy Constitution Day to all. Eight years has passed since our current constitution was promulgated – effectively and officially making Nepal, a Federal, Democratic, Republic of Nepal. The Constitution of Nepal 2015 is the first constitution of Nepal made by the constituent assembly. It came into effect on 20th September, 2015 replacing the Interim Constitution of 2007. The Constitution of Nepal is divided into 35 parts, 308 articles and 9 schedules. The constitution is flexible in nature, and amendments can be swiftly enacted through a two-thirds majority in parliament.
The Constitution of Nepal embodies a set of fundamental principles that govern the nation. It establishes a governance framework rooted in the concept of limited government. This framework adopts a federal democratic republican system, delineating authority across three tiers of state power: the federal, provincial, and local levels. It upholds a delicate balance of power and emphasizes the nationalization of state organs. Ensuring the safeguarding of human rights and fundamental rights, particularly for the majority of children, is a cornerstone of this constitution. Furthermore, it enforces a clear and reciprocal relationship between the government and its citizens, promoting a legal state. Operating on the principle of inclusiveness, this constitution meticulously defines the jurisdiction of the union, state, and local levels, thereby ensuring a coherent and functional governance structure for the people of Nepal.
However, nearly a decade has passed since the historic promulgation of our constitution, and while considerable progress has been made across the country – challenges remain – especially in ensuring socio-politcal rights of citizens who live away from the centre. Tangible improvements in the lives of ordinary citizens, especially those who have been historically marginalised, have remained elusive. Interest groups on the other hand are skillfully exploiting legal loopholes within the key pillars of federalism, inclusiveness, proportionality, and secularism, all of which are considered vital achievements of the constitution.
While it can be argued that the election of independent candidates in the recent local level elections could be a good example of federalism, it can also be countered with the fact that mainstream parties and their leaders continue to uphold partisan or personal interests over national interests. As they scramble to seize and influence power, the constitituion’s status is sometimes reduces to mere paper.
Inclusiveness, another cherished aspect of the constitution, faces challenges as interest groups vie for representation and influence within the political framework. While inclusivity was intended to provide a voice for all citizens, it is increasingly viewed as a battleground for interest groups to assert their agendas, potentially sidelining marginalized voices in the process.
Proportionality, a principle designed to ensure fair representation, is also being put to the test. Interest groups are skillfully manipulating electoral systems and political dynamics to secure disproportionate influence, potentially undermining the democratic foundation upon which the constitution was built. Take for example, Arzoo Rana Deuba’s candidacy for the House of Representatives through proportional representation for women.
Secularism, a fundamental principle of the constitution’s commitment to religious freedom and neutrality, finds itself under scrutiny. Interest groups with religious agendas seek to exploit legal gaps to advance their ideologies, posing challenges to the delicate balance between state and religion.
P.S. Remembering Subash Chandra Nemwang:
Subash Chandra Nemwang played significant and pivotal role in the development and promulgation of the new constitution of Nepal. He served as the Chairman of the Constituent Assembly during a critical phase in Nepal’s political history. He was known for his commitment to upholding democratic values, inclusivity and the rule of law in the constitution.