Constitution Assembly

Narendra Raj Paudel's picture

Democratic Responsiveness in Nepal: A Case of Constitution Drafting Process by Constituent Assembly

Abstract: 
This paper examines the ways and means of the constitution drafting process in Nepal. It is argued that preparation of the constitution draft depends upon the mandate of the Constituent Assembly election, constitution-drafting process and pressure from the public. It is assumed that the constitution has to address the needs and aspirations of the people. In this study, both primary and secondary sources of information were used to consolidate the study. Basically, primary information was gathered through an in-depth interview with politicians, law makers, political analysts, journalists and constitutional experts. So far as secondary information is concerned, the data was retrieved through the web page of the Constituent Assembly. In addition to this, other information about the meetings of Constituent Assembly was taken from the office records of Constituent Assembly Secretariat. The study revealed that Nepal adopted inductive approach to draft the new constitution. For this, 601 Constituent Assembly members were elected through Constituent Assembly election in 2008. Forty groups were formed to collect public opinion from all the constituencies. Near about five hundred thousand suggestions were collected. These suggestions were categorized on the basis of area coverage by thematic committees formed by the Constituent Assembly. Eventually, each thematic committee prepared the report and sent them to the Constituent Assembly via the constitutional committee. These reports were discussed in the Constituent Assembly. On the basis of reports and suggestions given by Constituent Assembly members, the constitutional committee prepared the preliminary draft of the constitution along with agreed and disagreed articles of the constitution. For arriving at consensus on the contentious issues, a sub-committee under the leadership of Prachanda (leader of main political party i.e. Unified Nepal Communist Party (Maoist) was formed under the constitutional committee. This committee narrowed down the 250 disputed issues of the constitution to 20. Basically, these disputes were related to forms of government, judiciary, elections and structure of federalism. The study revealed that Constituent Assembly members did not pay much attention to the draft constitution by focusing on the abovementioned disputes. Their discussions only began from minor issues which might be similar tothat other countries. At the last moment, they entered into the main issues of the constitution. The election result mandated them to draft the constitution on the basis of consensus. None of political parties had gained majority or two-thirds majority in the Constituent Assembly. The major challenges in drafting the constitution are different ideologies of the political parties, inter or intra-party conflict, instability of the government, the lingering integration of the Maoist combatants into the Nepali Army.
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