•      Thu Nov 30 2023

Eight years since new constitution, now is time to monitor implementation status

President Ram Chandra Paudel attending the Constitution Day 2023 at Tundikhel, Kathmandu on September 20, 2023. (Photo: RSS)

Narayan Ghimire

Kathmandu, Sept 20: Eight years have passed since the promulgation and enforcement of the present constitution in Nepal. As the time is nearing a decadal turn since promulgation, it is also a time to monitor and evaluate the status of implementation of the constitution.

Present constitution was declared on September 20, 2015 (Asoj 3, 2072BS). So, it is the Constitution Day which is also observed as the National Day across the country today.

Of the words qualifying the present constitution, some recurring ones are ‘progressive’, ‘socialism-oriented’, ‘inclusive’, ‘federal republic’, and ‘secular’. Similarly, looking into the objective and commitment of this supreme law of the country, ‘social justice’, ‘proportional representation and participation’, ‘sovereignty and state authority vested on citizen’, ‘end of all forms of inequality and oppression created by the past unitary system’, ‘building equitable society’, ‘maintaining good governance’, ‘full freedom of press’, and ‘prosperity’ come to our mind.

Of course, the above mentioned adjectives clearly indicate the points and provisions that vary from the previous constitutions, and envision the rosy future- a socialism-oriented, equal, inclusive and equitable society.

Now, as we are to go by near-a-decade with the present constitution, did Nepali citizens realize the progressive provisions and services mentioned in the constitution? Are the people satisfied with the political parties and their delivery that align with letter and spirit of the constitution? As the major actors of the State affairs, are political parties ready to realize the mistakes they did to delay enforcement of constitution? Such questions can be some pressing issues to be addressed while monitoring and evaluating the status of constitution implementation in Nepal.

Similarly, whether the constitution is materialized can be observed from different lens as from legal and policy-level, political, socio-economic, institutional and behavioural. Here, not only the behaviour of political parties but of the institutions and individual citizens counts much.

If we take this decade a foundational time for enforcement of constitution, it would not be unwise to regard legal reform and political behaviour as the key lens to take stock of the constitution’s implementation.

Shun past aberrations

When it comes to effective implementation of constitution, the behaviour of political parties and running of parliament comes with significance. It bears significance because we are still waiting important laws to enforce the constitution.

In this connection, it is worth remembering how the first parliament and governments since three-tier governments’ election failed to act up to the mark to advance federalism with true implementation of constitution. The first term of parliament and government since the general election in three-tier governments after promulgation of constitution in 2015 is quite unforgettable. It was sheer blot on Nepal’s political development and parliamentary practice. Making government, breaking it and forging political alliance and breaking it again for petty partisan interest took toll on law making. The House of Representatives (HoR) was so belittled that it was dissolved twice by the ruling party. The nation is still bearing the cost of parliament dissolution- the law making is protracted.

Dozens of acts including on federal education, federal civil service, Nepal Police, public health, mass communications, information and technology, and concurrent rights of three tiers of government are still awaited. That vendetta within the Communist Party of Nepal resulting into twice dissolution of HoR had direct bearing on law making. Dozens of bills had to be withdrawn and dozens others were rendered ineffective due to such unexpected political and parliamentary practice.

Our political parties must rise over petty partisan interest and improve their characters. The intolerance and politics of negation has plagued our political parties. The ongoing parliamentary practices in Koshi Province can also be linked to this regard. For party and alliance interest, constitution is violated again and again and the Supreme Court had to remind the political parties representing in the province assembly.

Similarly, leaving parliament without business and obstructing parliament for long is still ongoing. Recently, the HoR was obstructed for long over the gold smuggling. Such ill practices must be ended.

Although we are in federal system, it is worrying that the central politics and political parties are controlling and influencing politics and parliament business. It’s egregious mockery of federalism. The province cannot be a meek follower of central political interest. Moreover, the Bagmati Province was left without business for over two months.

The bill session of the parliament- formed after the second general elections of the three-tier government, failed to bring any laws. It was also caused because of political bickering.

The constitution having such progressive features needs comprehensive homework with true political committee for getting it materialized and paving way for meeting objectives and goals. Seeking further parliamentary activism and political accountability is imperative. Importantly, parties are in dire need of building political culture and tolerance and shunning derelictions. Words in constitution do not get translated into practice themselves, but the right and lawful actions from stakeholders. RSS