Govt fails to meet the expectations of new constitution

Published On: September 1, 2016 02:10 AM NPT By: Ashok Dahal  | @ashokpillar

KATHMANDU, Sept 1: With less than three weeks left to mark the first anniversary of the promulgation of the new constitution in the country, the government is failing to expedite several key tasks that must be done by September 19. 

The new constitution of the country, which was promulgated on September 20 last year, has mandatory provision to establish high courts in each seven provinces and form a language commission within a year of the commencement of the constitution. 

Article 287 of the constitution has made it mandatory to form the language commission comprising representatives from each seven provinces, tasking to recommend official languages for the government within five years. But the draft of the bill related to the language commission has been dumped at the cabinet for a month waiting for approval. 

Likewise, Article 300 of the new constitution has made it mandatory to establish high courts at each of the seven provinces, dissolving the existing 16 appellate courts in the country. The bill related to the establishment of such courts was registered at the parliament by the previous government led by K P Oli. The full House forwarded the bill to the bills committee of the parliament for further discussion. As key committee members left for two-week India visit shortly after receiving the bill, the bill is still under discussion in the committee. 

The government can establish the high court only after the enactment of the Judicial Administration Act, after the endorsement of the bill.  

“We have kept the bill in government's priority list. The Judicial Administration Bill will be endorsed from the House at the earliest after minor deliberations,” said Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ajay Shankar Nayak. 

When asked about the establishment of the language commission, he said that the commission can be formed through a cabinet decision even if the endorsement of the bill from the parliament is delayed. 

The Oli-led government had aimed to enact laws related to the language commission by mid-July and the judicial administration by mid-August. “We had planned to establish high courts and form the language commission by mid-September, but the new government is missing the deadline,” main opposition party CPN-UML leader Agni Kharel told Republica. Kharel was minister for law and justice in the previous government. 

Kharel also criticized the government for not unveiling its action plan of constitution implementation. “The new government neither adopted our action plan nor proposed its own. This shows that it is reluctant to implement the new constitution,” said Kharel.  

The government is yet to form a federal commission whose job is to recommend recommend the government about demarcation of provinces as provisioned by the new constitution in Article 295. The commission is a must as the government cannot hold provincial elections in all seven provinces without finalizing their demarcation at first. 

Though, the commission to suggest number and demarcation of local bodies has been carrying out its work, it is unlikely to submit its  report on time as major political parties have stood divided over the number of local units in the new local setup. Delineation of local units is also urgent for holding the local elections. 

Similarly, the government has done nothing for the formation of the electoral constituency delineating commission. The commission should suggest new electoral constituencies reducing the number of existing constituencies from 240 to 165. 

Local, provincial and parliamentary elections should be concluded by January 2018 as per the new constitution. Political parties and stakeholders have been worrying that the delay in expediting some key tasks of the constitution would delay the whole process of constitution implementation.

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