Jul 8, 2012

Nepal: Constitutional puzzle continues

Telegraph Nepal, Editorials

We have time and again acknowledged that we at this paper have practically little knowledge as regards the constitutional provisions that exist in this 12 point country-mother Nepal. However, as keen citizenry we have failed to convince ourselves on a few pressing issues that were definitely related with the constitutional provisions, or not,  to which we presume some hard working learned men on these counts will enlighten us for the benefit of the larger population.

The things that have really befuddled us are these respectively.

With the death of the CA body which duly elected both the incumbent Prime Minister and the President now possess which status constitutionally?

If the Prime Minister has already been termed as a caretaker one than what about the President?

The incumbent Prime Minister prior to tendering his resignation and, mind it, remaining as a sitting elected Prime Minister  has declared that the nation should embrace fresh CA polls again.

And this he has done as per the options offered by the nation’s Apex Court. Thus should the PM’s announcement be binding on us all or not? Do not forget that he has acted as per the suggestions made by the Nepal Supreme Court at time of limiting the tenure of the then existing CA body.

However, our perplexity has taken a new height when we learnt that the parties now in opposition have pooh-poohed the election announcement decision. If so then do not these opposition parties have all in a combined manner insulting the Supreme Court’s verdict?  Does this not tantamount to contempt of court?

The next thing that puzzles us and makes even uneasy at this paper, politically speaking with some element of constitutionalism, is that the lame and duck Nepal President, now that he must have become one with the death of the body that elected him if he recalls, that he is being encouraged by his former party seniors and in combination of some other parties who now claim themselves to be in the opposition camp to sack the Prime Minister. Reports have it also that the ceremonial President too has freshly energized himself and is all set to, rumors have it, sack him-Dr. Bhattarai.

This creates yet another constitutional puzzle not only for us but understandably to a wider section of the informed society. Question that we would await from constitutional experts would be to understand for all time to come is that “which clause in the constitution allow the President to sack the sitting Prime Minister though a caretaker one”? With what charge?

Says Muma Ram Khanal, a veteran political analyst with some knowledge on matters related with Nepal Constitution (see opinion this week) that the constitution as such doesn’t allow the President to summarily sack the Prime Minister but yet, adds Khanal, that the President, if and when, is approached by the parties now in opposition together with the people’s support (stress added) then in such an eventuality Dr. Yadav can sack the Prime Minister.

Okay agreed. But will not such an act be taken as unconstitutional one? And more so Mr. Khanal is talking of which people? The ones who have yet to come to their lost senses for having been cheated for all along the past 12 point years? Yet agreed but will not such an aggressive and erratic action taken up by the President, whose tenure in today’s office itself remains in a heightened constitutional controversy, encourage unconstitutionalism? Will the people remain silent in such an eventuality wherein the constitutionalism has been challenged in a merciless manner?

By the same token what if the same bunch of people approaches the PM and tells him to impeach the ceremonial President?

To cut the story short of our non-ending confusion we would wish to add our own version which may tremble some others and may add up to their confusion.

If in the manner the constitution is to be challenged by the President, the Prime Minister (mind it that he has already told that he will pounce upon President if the latter took any undesirable action against him ( and this he once again warned Monday, July 2, 2012, evening talking straight to the President ) and by the parties now in opposition will not then it encourage the Nepal Army generals to take over the charge of the nation? If others can forget constitutionalism then why should only army stick to this universal notion and stick to remain under the ambit of the democratic norms as promised? If so then will not the people and the High offices of the Nepal Presidency and the Prime Minister including the messiah of the democratic system have to accept the Nepal Army move, if the institution at all dares to do so? If things deteriorate then should not the Army jump into the political scene?

Going one step more farther, what if in the continuing mess of constitutionalism, the now sidelined King bounces back to power under this or that pretexts? Abundant reasons are available for him? King Gyanendra already spoke that he may have a role to play soon while talking to media men, July 3, 2012, evening in Bhairahava. This was one of his clear statements made so far after HE preferred to enter into the Nagarjun jungles.

Mind it that while leaving the Royal Palace, the then King had emphatically said that “I am depositing the Royal Scepter in the hand of Nepal Government for its safety”. It was just a deposit but not a total handover.

What do all these mean?

So our questions, forwarded in the preceding paragraphs, as regards the clarification of the constitutional provisions now in force remain intact. Will someone enlighten us? We will highly appreciate and even remain obliged. 

July 4, 2012.


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