Constitutional iceberg

Not all, but some of the problems of the nascent Nepali democracy seem directly linked to the Constitution which was drafted over the course of 1990 under the aegis of three mutually suspicious forces — the royal palace, the Nepali Congress and the Communists. Promulgated hurriedly in November of that year, the flaws in the master document have become more glaring over the years as day by day the country suffers from the antics of unaccountable politicians. These new rulers are, of course, amply supported by an intimidated bureaucracy, an undemanding academia and a politicised bar.

Jurist Shambhu Prasad Gyawali, who has been Nepal´s longest serving Attorney General from 1959 to 1970, observes that Nepal´s polity is in a state of "functional anarchy". This is so because constitutional organs have been hamstrung by structural defects in the Constitution that leave these bodies unaccountable. Gyawali suggests that many gaps and omissions, which have become obvious in the last seven years of its application, should be rectified through suitable amendments that do not leave room for contradiction between Acts passed and the Constitution. At the current stage of evolution of democratic culture in Nepal, it is unrealistic to expect politicians to discipline themselves; and this is the reason why some amount of constitutional engineering is in order. Here are some of Gyawali´s suggestions.

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Himal Southasian