Constitution’s vision and values: Are they implemented in letter and spirit?

KATHMANDU: The Constitution of Nepal promulgated in 2015 was aimed at charting the country’s path to a prosperous future. This was what people believed then.

Today, Nepal celebrates the fifth year of the promulgation of the Constitution – a document, drafted and promulgated by the Constituent Assembly five years ago.

The promulgation of the 2015 Constitution ushered in a new dispensation in the country’s constitutional, political, social, and economic order.

A section then argued that whether Nepal’s political system depends on the successful implementation of the new constitution.

Nepal, indeed, is currently in the phase of implementation of the Constitution on a full scale as several laws contradicting the constitution have been scrapped and new laws framed to suit the changed context.

Moreover, the parliament succeeded in bringing numerous laws to implement the Constitution in the last three years.

A constitution is particularly guided by codes that need to be interpreted in a liberal manner.

Now questions arise: Is it that the Constitution of Nepal so perfect that it needs no change? Or, were the makers of the Constitution (then Constituent Assembly) were farsighted that they had prophesied all changes and incidences that would take place in Nepal?

Despite all these, it’s true that Nepal has got a robust Constitution — suited to the country. However, it is not true that the makers of the Constitution were so farsighted who could provide solutions for future changes because no legal document can provide details for all eventualities.

To be more precise, no Constitution can be such that it does not need a change or an amendment.

Nepal’s Constitution has accepted the necessity of amendments or modifications according to changing needs or demands.

In fact, there are enough flexibilities of interpretations in the constitution because of which the Constitution has often been termed a living document rather than a static rulebook.

For instance, Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota, too, is in favor of making changes in the constitution based on necessity so that nationality would be strengthened.

Debates cannot be ruled out about what constitutes the basic structure of the document as politics in a democratic is full of differences and debates, and this, in fact, is an indication of diversity and openness.

Therefore, it is often said that democracy welcomes debates.

But the question is whether Nepal’s political parties, particularly the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) and the Nepali Congress (NC) have shown maturity in setting limits to the debates?

Another question arises: Has the ruling NCP implemented the Constitution in its letter and spirits?

If the last five years of the promulgation of the Constitution are to be meticulously observed, politics has remained a game of compromises or give-and-take.

In this connection, as Speaker Sapkota puts it: “The parliament has tried to rise above the traditional format and expects to meet people’s aspiration in line with the constitution’s spirit.”

By saying so, it does not mean to say that extreme positions may be theoretically or ideologically very correct.

Challenges to the implementation of the Constitution remain as several of the makers of the document themselves denying to take the ownership.

Voices are at times heard that the Constitution was promulgated “under pressure” owing to some “external factors”, which has remained an unconvincing statement.

Here, politics, in fact, demands moderation of extreme views to implement the constitution by reaching a common minimum ground.

This is one means to democratize politics. Only then, the Constitution will be successful.

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