Constitution of Nepal

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Nepal is governed under the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007.[1] It came into force on January 15, 2007. It replaced the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990. The Interim Constitution was drafted to facilitate and manage the Nepali constitutional transformation process that started with the massive people's movement against the Monarchy in April 2006 (Second Jana Andolan). The Interim Constitution was also drafted to manage the transition of Nepal from a unitary, constitutional monarchy country to a federal republic.

Nepal Constituent Assembly[edit]

The Interim Constitution provides for a Constituent Assembly, which was charged with writing Nepal's permanent constitution. Under the terms of the Interim Constitution, the new constitution was to be promulgated by May 28, 2010; but the Constituent Assembly changed the deadline of May 28, 2010 by a year because of many points of disagreement between the political parties. On May 25, 2011, the Supreme Court of Nepal ruled that the 2010 extension of the Interim Constitution was not right. After May 29, 2011 the Constituent Assembly kept on extending the Interim Constitution by a few months at a time.

On May 28, 2012, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai dissolved the Constituent Assembly after it failed to finish the constitution in its last time extension, ending four years of constitution drafting and leaving the country in a legal vacuum.[2][3] Elections to a second Constituent Assembly were held on November 19, 2013 and political leaders pledged to draft a new constitution within a year.[4][dated info]. The new elected parliament expressed commitment that the new constitution would be promulgated on January 22, 2015 however, due to continued differences on key issues including system of governance, judicial system and federation issues like number, name and areas of the states to be carved, the constitution could not be finalized and promulgated.

New Constitution of 2015[edit]

The new constitution is set to be adopted in August 2015 but the text has been subject to heavy international criticism for failing to protect fundamental rights, as well as protests within the country against the proposed creation of federal states.[5] The draft text includes provisions which have been criticized as violating Nepal's commitments under international treaties[6] such as clause 3 of Article 31 which reads: "In exercising the right entrusted by this article, any act which may be contrary to public health, public decency or morality or incitement to breach public peace or act to convert another person from one religion to another or any act or behaviour to undermine or jeopardise the religion of each other is not allowed and such act shall be punishable by law." This, in effect, would make it illegal to change religion, evangelize or even explain one's own religion.[7]

Previous Constitutions[edit]

Previous constitutions of Nepal were enacted in 1959, 1962, 1990, and 1999.[8]

In 1948, the Government of Nepal Act was enacted. Since the mid-nineteenth century, the country had been a monarchy where the prime ministers, from the Rana dynasty, had sweeping control over the affairs of the state.[9] The 1948 document introduced limited democratic elements, but the experiment was not successful due to the misgivings of the Rana rulers to give away power.[10]

The 1951 interim constitution was promulgated after the end of the Rana period, which was prompted by the popular dissatisfaction with the regime.[11] This text strengthened the authority of the king, and introduced relevant reforms such as the creation of the Supreme Court and the inclusion of fundamental rights and socio-economic goals to be pursued by the state.[12]

The 1959 constitution followed the previously mentioned interim text. Interestingly, despite the establishment of a bicameral parliament, the king continued to hold important powers such as the prerogative to appoint half of the members of the Senate and the suspension of parliament under certain circumstances.[13]

The democratic experiment was short-lived, as in 1962 a new constitution came in to eliminate political parties, and to introduce the so-called panchayat system. In this model, panchayats were councils organized at the local level, presumably to ensure the representation of citizens. However, the king exercised much stronger authority than in the 1959 regime. and could modify the constitution or suspend it in case of emergency.[14]

In 1990, the first Jana Andolan, Popular Revolt, brought multi-party democracy back to Nepal. The 1990 constitution lifted the ban on political parties, described a democratic representative system where the authority of the king was curtailed, and enshrined fundamental rights.[15] Although the 1990 constitution substantially increased the democratic character of the state in comparison with the panchayat regime, critiques have argued that this text did not adequately represent all sectors of society, even though Nepal is a multi-cultural country where diverse social groups coexist [16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2063 (2007) As Amended by the First to Sixth Amendments (Bilingual)
  2. ^ CA dissolved after epic failure
  3. ^ BBC: Nepal enters crisis mode as constitution talks fail
  4. ^ "Nepal takes step towards new constitution. Political leaders had pledged to draw up constitution within a year as new parliament convenes.". Al Jazeera. 23 January 2014. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ International Constitutional Law -- Nepal
  10. ^;
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ Krishna Hacchethu, The Second Transformation of Nepali Political Parties, in NEPAL: NEW FRONTIERS OF RESTRUCTURING OF STATE 125 (Lok Raj Baral ed., 2008); Tulsi Ram Pandey, Social Change and Political Participation, in NEPAL: QUEST FOR PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY 90 (Lok Raj Baral ed., 2006).
  16. ^ Mahendra Lawoti, Constitution as Sources of Exclusion: An Overview of the 1990 Constitution, in DEMOCRATIC CONSTITUTION MAKING: EXPERIENCES FROM NEPAL, KENYA, SOUTH AFRICA AND SRI LANKA 11 (Hari P. Bhattarai & Jhalak Subedi eds., 2007)

External links[edit]

Preliminary Considerations", Himalayan Research Bulletin, Vol. XI, Nos. 1-3, 1991 at the University of Texas