Federal Constitution Of Nepal Let It Evolve Through Practice
The Constitution of Nepal promulgated on September 20, 2015 is ademocratic and republican charter of the nation . In its preamble, the intent and purpose of this democratic republic constitution is clearly stipulated. The preamble to the constitution states that this democratic republican constitution was enacted by the constituent assembly to achieve the people’s aspirations for enduring peace, good governance, development and prosperityfor the nation. The constitution combines both democratic and republican features and dimensions. These dimensions are very important in democracy building, institutionalisation of rule of law and nurturing sovereignty of the people. A republican state is defined as a sovereign state which is organized with a form of government in which power resides in elected individuals representing the citizens.
Moreover, in a democratic state, the government leaders exercise power according to the rule of law. Currently, 147 of the world’s sovereign states use republic as part of their official names. Not all of these are republics in the sense of having elected democratic governments. Nor do all nations with elected governments use the word republic in their names.
But Nepal qualifies to be a democratic republic in the sense it has abolished the hereditary monarchy to meet the universal and global standards of republicanism. Moreover, Nepal has established the democratic institutions and these democratic mechanism find better elucidation and illustration in this constitution promulgated just a year ago. Going back to the history we find that the republics became more common in the Western world starting in the late 18th century. They had come into existence displacing the autocratic and abolute monarchy as the most common form of government in Europe in those times The republics that were brought into existence in Europe in those days had not been democratic having the mandate of the people in the modern sense of the term. However in modern republics, the situation is completely different. The executive theoretically is legitimized both by the written democratic constitution in most of the cases and also by popular vote.
The ideal of a democracy is universal equality while that of a republic is individual liberty.When ideal of equality and individual freedom are effectively combined and blended , the democratic republic becomes a functioning proposition.
But experiences have shown that the strong commitment to democracy have to be expressed in practice. Only mentioning democracy and republic in the constitiution expressed in letter and words does not make sense if democratic politics, culture and behaviour are lacking. Although envisaging democracy and republic in the basic law of the land is necessary as a matter of democratic commitment, these have to be backed up by appropriate operational environment and reality. In fact, it is interesting to note the fact that the democracy does not appear anywhere in the US Constitution or the Declaration of Independence; or in any State constitution, for that matter. It is in order to note that the US has fifty one federal entities called states and they have their own separate constitutions. It is through practices and conduct that the US has become one of the most impportant and vibrant demoratic republican countries in the world.
In the democratic histroy of around three hundred years, the US constitution has been amended less than three dozen times and so is the case of other countries like India . India got democratic republic constitution in 1951 after the British left but the amendments are carried out only when the empirical experiences and practical needs dictated accordingly. However, when we take the case of our own country Nepal, it is poised to be amended even before the constitution has been enforced and implemented in its fuller sense. It is very disconcerting to note that a constitution that has been enacted and promulgated by the constituent assembly has to get confronted with the very unsavoury destiny of being tinkered with and altered before its provisions are implemented . It indicates how fragile and weakened has been the constitutional foundation of the democratic political system of the country .
Nepal is not only the democratic republic but also has become a federal country. This is clearly stipulated in this constitution. The constitution provides for seven provincial entities and these units have been endowed with substantive functions and competencies. As the country is entering the phase of constitution implementation through enactment of several laws and legislations, the incumbent government is toying with the notion of amending the constitution.
Though it is necessary to address the genuine aspirations of the people though amendment to the constitution if needed, it is equally important to let the constitution come into implementation to ascertain the substantive contents for amendment.
It will set a bad precedent as the constitution can be demeaned and derogated as it were an ordinary legislation amenable to amendment at the flimsiest pretext. Only on the ground of perceived benefits or harms the basic law of the land should not be subjected to amendment.
Experiences and practices world wide have indicated that the federalism is an envolving process. India is a case of federalism where boundariesof federal entitties are redemarcated and redrawn time and again. In India the new provinces have been drawn up but these are done only after the genuine aspirations of the people are articulated and confirmed through practical implementation of the constitutional provisions. If we have to uphold and strengthen the values enshrined in the constitution we need to have the sense of patience , tolerance and accommodation. Otherwise the ideals of democracy and republicanism vouchsafed for in the constitution will not be translated into reality.