Stop the mockery of democracy !

Published On: December 13, 2022 07:35 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The government’s decision to introduce a controversial ordinance to pave the way for the release of the advisor to Nagarik Unmukti Party (NUP) Resham Chaudhary, who is serving a life sentence for the past five years for masterminding the 2015 Tikapur massacre, has courted serious controversy. Despite widespread criticisms from various quarters including from his own party, Nepali Congress, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who has expedited internal homework to form a new government under his leadership, has shown no sign of backtracking on his decision. The ordinance passed by the Cabinet meeting held on Sunday has already reached the Office of the President for authentication. Once the ordinance gets a nod from President Bidya Devi Bhandari as recommended by the government, Chaudhary, who masterminded the massacre in which nine people including a serving Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and a minor were killed in a barbaric manner, will be absolved and walk free though a case related to this is subjudice at the Supreme Court. The controversial ordinance will also pave the way to set free a number of leaders and cadres of Madhesh-based political parties, who are convicted of criminal offenses under the guise of politics. The real danger is that it will set an extremely bad precedent for the future and further promote impunity that our country has been experiencing under the guise of politics since the Maoists began killing innocent people in the name of the so-called ‘people’s war’.

In any democratic country, the government is provided with the right to introduce an ordinance when there are any pressing issues that require an immediate legislative action. Such ordinances automatically cease to function if they are not endorsed by parliament within six months. The mandatory provision to take the ordinance before the elected parliament ensures check and balance in the functioning of the government. But the hasty move of Prime Minister Deuba, even without holding any discussions within his own party, to introduce the ordinance when the newly-elected parliament is set to convene within a few weeks, raises a serious question over the intention of the government. As a matter of fact, Chaudhary, who is serving a life sentence for the past five years following the verdicts of district and high courts in connection with the Tikapur massacre, has his case sub judice at the Supreme Court. The consequences of this move are going to be far-reaching in Nepal. There are many leaders and cadres of Madhesh-based parties including Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, Janata Samajbadi Party and Janamat Party currently serving jail terms for the crimes they committed under the guise of politics on various occasions in the past. The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) leader Mohammad Aftab Alam, for instance, is also spending time in jail for burning alive over a dozen people in a brick kiln. There are dangers that the ordinance will pave the way to release all those responsible for heinous crimes under the guise of a political incident. This in turn will not only seriously compromise the principle of rule of law but also undermine the country’s judiciary as a whole.

Despite widespread criticism, Prime Minister Deuba, who is also President of Nepali Congress (NC), seems adamant on his move with the sole aim to solicit support from the Nagarik Unmukti Party to form a new government under his leadership. The party has won three seats under the First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system while two other candidates close to the party have won seats in parliament in the capacity of independent candidates. The move is also seen as an attempt to appease Madhes-based parties like Loktantrik Samajbadi Party in lieu of their support to form the new government. No matter whose interest Deuba seeks to serve with this controversial move, one thing is clear: Deuba is ready to go to any extent possible to realize his bid to form a new government even if this requires him to flout the fundamental values of democracy such as rule of law and separation of power. The move taken by Deuba to introduce ordinance to meet his vested political ambition is a mockery of democracy. This should stop. 

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