Nepal, a South Asian landlocked and India's neighbouring country, has established
itself as federal democratic republic through the promulgation of its
constitution, possessing 35 parts, 308 articles and 9 schedules, on September
It is noteworthy that country inculcated democratic values firstly
through an armed revolution against autocratic Rana regime in 1951 and
subsequent announcement of interim government and constitution by King Tribhuvan
to provide legal framework until a constituent assembly was elected to form a
new constitution. However, Nepal underwent a tumultuous history of
constitutional development alongside uncertainty caused by dismantling of
constitutions as a consequence of conflict between monarchy and constitutional
In fact, first attempt to form a constitution was not fulfilled due to death of
King Tribhuvan; After that, in 1959, King Mahendra had promulgated a
constitution with a special provision that King had the authority to capture
entire executive powers during emergency by suspending either or both the houses
of parliament and constitution. In 1960, king Mahendra suspended the
constitution and Government of B P Koirala elected with two third majority , by
invoking the same emergency provision. It has imprisoned B P Koirala for 8
Moreover, in 1962,King Mahendra announced a new constitution that had brought
about a new panchayat system
, which established a high powered monarchy by
curtailing political freedom of the people and banning political parties.
ended after 30 years, as an aftermath of pro democracy Jan Andolan-I (people's
movement-I) launched by Nepali Congress(NC) and United Left Front( ULF) jointly
for democracy and multiparty system. Consequently, King Birendra promulgated a
new constitution of 1990, constituted by a nine member (including two royal
representatives) commission with a provision for king to be relegated in
This constitution had established Nepal as a Hindu
kingdom with imperfect balance of power and stipulated freedom of expression,
judicial independence ,and party system. But despite these, it did not enshrined
provisions for protection of minorities. As per provisions of this constitution,
parliamentary election of 1991,1994, 1999 as well as local elections of 1992 and
1997 had been held.
But, Communist party of Nepal ( Maoist) (CPN-M) launched a people's war against
unstable, ineffective highly centralized and upper caste dominated government.
In which, King Birendra was assassinated on June 1, 2001 and his younger brother
Gyanendra was crowned , who had usurped all the powers in February 2005 on the
ground of failure of government from handling the violent rebellion.
were detained. In November 2005, that is the reason why Maoists and seven party
alliance (SPA) had joined hands in New Delhi on 12 point understanding including
election to constituent assembly, multiparty competitive political system, and
peaceful mass movement against monarchy, with an objective to establish absolute
democracy by ending autocratic monarchy. This SPA and Maoist alliance had
launched Jan Andolan-ll (peoples movement-ll) ,which had forced King Gyanendra
ultimately to surrender power and reinstate parliament.
It is noteworthy that on
21 November 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed between SPA
represented by Girija Prasad Koirala and CPN(M) which has ended the violent act
But in fact, all the previous constitutions had a short life due to failure to
adopt participatory approach, which was tried to embrace by setting up of
constituent assembly that was functioning as per the provisions of interim
constitution, promulgated on January 15, 2007, as the first constitution
proclaimed in the name of Nepali people, which was further amended twice for
including provisions of federalism, and increasing seats of Madhesh province
under proportional representation system.
More importantly, interim constitution
has caused three major transformation:
- From monarchy to republicanism
- From civil conflict to peaceful politics,
- From non-inclusive state mechanism to inclusive democracy.
In April 2008, election for first constituent assembly(CA-I) was held with 60%
voter turnout , in which 28 international observation missions have observed the
functioning of elections and European Union has conceived it as a generally
calm and peaceful election. CA-I had 601 members in which, 240 members were to
be elected through First past the post system (FPTP) and 335 members were to be
elected from proportional representation system (PR) and rest of the 26 members
were to be appointed by the council of ministers.
In CA-I, CPN (M) emerged as a
single largest party, Ram Baran Yadav was elected as first president and Pushpa
Kamal Dahal Prachanda as the first ever prime minister of new republic. It is
noteworthy that CA-I has provided very well representation of all section of
society as well as it has developed several caucus including women's caucus, Madhesi caucus which has brought them together to fight as injustice.
created one constitutional committee, 10 thematic committee and 3 procedural
committees which have worked with International Institute of democracy and
Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and UNDP to make constitutional
development systematic. In CA-I, a five member dispute resolution sub committee
headed by Pushpa Kamal Dahal was established which has worked to create
unanimity on the issue of federalism, legislature ruling system, and judicial
Except these provisions, constituent assembly has got unanimity on the
issue of mixed system of government i.e. president as head of the state and
prime minister as head of the government, bicameral legislature, constitutional
court to handle federalism related disputes, and federal commission for
demarcation of states. However, due to some other unresolved contentious issues,
absence of political leadership, unrealistic timeline and rejection of 11
province model, CA-I dissolved without promulgating a constitution after two
year original tenure and four extensions.
Furthermore, after that, interim government led by chief justice Khil Raj Regmi
was formed in March 2013,which has organized election of second constituent
assembly (CA-II) wherein Nepali Congress has emerged as single largest party. On
24 December 2013, four major parties have finalized 'four point deal' to insure
promulgation of constitution within one year of time span. Sushil Koirala was
elected as prime minister of CA-II, and five new committees were constituted-
constitution records study and determination committee (CRDC), constitutional
political dialogue and consensus committee( CPDCC), committee on citizen
relation and public opinion collection (CCRPOC), committee on capacity
development and resource management (CCDRM), and constitution drafting committee
Furthermore, on the basis of 16 point agreement the preliminary draft
constitution was tabled in the CA-II on June 30, 2015, which was deeply rejected
by Madhesh based party due to unresolved issue of delineation of federal units.
It is noteworthy that article 88 and 175 of draft constitution has enshrined
provision for 1/3 reservation for women in federal parliament and provincial
assembly, but citizenship provision that father should be a Nepali people for
natural citizenship has caused again conflict and obstruction in promulgation of
In CA-II, finally seven province model has been embraced by adding Karnali provibce in six province model. Moreover, draft constitution was amended
in constituent assembly by two third majority and finally on September 16, 2015
constitution bill was endorsed by two third majority with Madheshi parties
boycotting the proceeding and Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal voting against
the bill. On 20 September 2015, president Ram Baran Yadav promulgated the
Salient features of the new constitution are as follow:
- New constitution of Nepal of 2015 has abolished discrimination based on
caste, religion, language, gender and racial untouchability by embracing
multi caste, multilingual, multicultural and diverse geographical
specificities, in order to protect and promote unity in diversity, social
and cultural solidarity.
- Tolerance and harmonious attitude based on the principle of proportional
inclusion and participation, to insure equitable economy, prosperity and
social justice was inculcated.
- Multiparty democratic governance system, civil liberty, fundamental
rights, human rights, adult franchise, periodic election, complete press
freedom, and an independent, impartial and competent judiciary as well as
rule of law have been insured through the constitution.
- New constitution has stipulated the mixed system of government i.e.
president as the head of the state and prime minister as the head of the
- It has enshrined bicameral legislature with 275 member( 165 FPTP & 110 PR)
lower house known as House of representatives and 59 member upper house known as National Assembly, in which 1/3 seats will be reserved for women as per the
provisions enshrined under article 84(2) and quorum will be 1/4 of total
members of the house.
- As per article 127 of the Nepali constitution, judicial system will be
consisted of supreme court, high courts and district courts. In which
supreme court, with one chief justice and 20 other judges, will have the
final power to interpret the constitution. Moreover, President shall appoint
chief justice of Nepal for the tenure of 6 years on the recommendation of
constitutional council and rest of the judges of the supreme court on the
recommendation of judicial council.
- Special powers regarding finance bill have been vested on lower house,
and article 110 (2) stipulates that finance bill and bills concerning the
security agencies including the Nepal army, Nepal police, shall be
introduced only as a government bills.
- Article 100 put forth the provision regarding vote of confidence
and motion of no confidence. And article 114 insures the power of
president to promulgate ordinance on the recommendation of council of
ministers during off session period of parliament.
- Part (31) article- 274 pointed out the provision for amendment of
constitution by 2/3 majority, thereby it reflects the rigid characteristics
- Parts- 17, 18,19 enshrined the provision for local executive, local
legislature as well as local financial procedure respectively, that can be
conceived as manifestation of democratic decentralization.
- Part(24) from article 245-247 provide for election commission to
organize free and fair election in Nepal. Article 245 stipulates that there
shall be one chief election commissioner and four other election
commissioners to be appointed by president as per recommendation of council
- Public service commission has been provided constitutional provision
under part (23) ; similarly National Human Right Commission (part 25)
reflects the emphasis for human rights under Nepal's constitution.
- Except these, constitution of Nepal has enshrined the provisions for
national commissions in order to empower several vulnerable section of the
society like: national women commission (article 252), national dalit commission (article
255), adibasi janjati commission(article 261) , national Madheshi commission (
article- 262), national tharu commission(article- 263) and national muslim
commission ( article- 264) etc.
However, despite the provision for fundamental right of abolition of gender
discrimination , citizenship provision that any child born to foreign national
and nepali mother citizen will have to wait for many years as per federal laws
to acquire citizenship but in case of , citizen father and foreign mother, the
child and mother will be conferred citizenship without any pendency for years.
That is quite discriminatory and stimulates patriarchal stances.
On this ground
many ethnic groups including Madheshi have not been heard despite equality, and
human rights' constitutional ratification, which has also obstructed the way of
harmonious attitude. In final endorsement of draft constitution, many parties
had boycotted, that reflected lack of unanimity too. Majoritarian tendency and
lack of proper mechanism for reservation for backward including people of Tarai
region have reflected the restraint before the entitlement theory of right,
base of the constitution.
Moreover, Nepal's territorial rearrangement such as
its delimitation of constituencies and its federal structure is not free of
bias. In fact, Nepal has drafted many constitutions, which were thrown away
after a short period of times in conflict between pro democracy parties and
monarchy, due to lack of political participation of peoples and other democratic
values, but in this constitution , popular sovereignty of Rousseau has been
adopted, which is an attempt of long lasting constitution of a democratic
federal republic and secular nation.