The Interim Constitution (IC) has been rendered ineffective by the failure of the Constituent Assembly to deliver a new constitution within the stipulated deadline. Four months since the dissolution of the CA, political parties are unable to agree on the process required to end the current constitutional deadlock. At present, there can be general consensus only on two positions. The first position is that since the IC is unable to provide an outlet to the current political stalemate, only a political decision based on consensus of the major political parties can bring the process back on track. The second position is that until such a time, the political parties responsible for running of the state must ensure good governance and democratic functioning of constitutional bodies.
However, there are significant differences about how to end the current political stalemate. As it is, the IC does not have any provision about elections or what the future house of representatives would look like. Most of the political parties are in favor of reviving the CA, if only to amend the IC and open the way for a fresh round of elections. While the Election Commission is waiting for proper legal instruments to hold elections, major political parties appear to be intent on reviving the CA and, if possible, draft a new constitution. Many intellectual and civil society members, outside of the major political parties, claim that reviving the CA would be illegitimate.
Key arguments favoring CA revival propose that the political decision to revive the CA need not stand on any existing provision in the IC, and that this political decision can be taken consensually by the government, the President and the political parties. The CA can then amend the constitution and open way for a fresh round of elections by specifying the nature of the new CA or parliament and the electoral process as well as creating the necessary legal instruments. The primary thrust of this argument is that only a parliament or CA should be allowed to amend the constitution.
This position, however, does not address the question of the legitimacy of this decision vis-a-vis the Supreme Court (SC) verdict that prevented any further extension of the CA and caused its dissolution. The tenure of the CA constituted a contract between the political representatives and the people, and could not be unilaterally altered. At the same time, the people are the final arbiter of political differences and that if political differences prevented drafting of a new constitution then the parties must, once again, go to the people. This position, however, does not provide incontrovertible solution as to how the IC can be amended and legal provisions created to
allow a fresh round of elections. Can the same consensual political decision be used to amend the constitution and create legal instruments for a fresh round of elections?
Whatever decision is taken, it is likely to be contested and argued against. Therefore, there needs to be a common understanding, however informal, between the major political parties, the President, the judiciary and the legal fraternity before any political decision is taken. Political forces should be careful to make sure that they do not trample on the rights of the people to take political decisions. After all, political parties can only claim to represent the people, and their claim becomes frail without fresh mandate.
Although there are seats reserved in public transport vehicles for women, the disabled and the elderly we find that in most cases these are occupied by able bodied youths. In practice, this provision has not been enforced. So we find women, the disabled and the elderly standing in the crowded public buses, whereas it is their right to occupy the seats. Still in most cases they stand silently as they are helpless. Now, however, we believe that things will change for the better as the Metropolitan Traffic Police Circle, Jawalakhel, has made known its intention of enforcing this provision in Lalitpur district. The police are going to warn erring youths who occupy the reserved seats. They would be doing so for a week. After that the offenders would be facing sterner action.
This requirement is meant to be abiding, yet it is being flouted. It has to be enforced throughout the country. The youths should learn to be considerate and show respect and not occupy the reserved seats.