KESHAV P. KOIRALA
KATHMANDU: The Legislature-Parliament on Saturday endorsed the Bill on First Amendment of Constitution of Nepal and amended the country’s charter with two thirds majority four months after its promulgation.
The amendment aims at resolving the ongoing agitation by the Madhesi parties. The lawmakers of agitating parties, however, boycotted the voting this evening, saying the purported amendment was incomplete and would not address their demands.
When put to vote, the Bill garnered 461 votes in its favour. Seven lawmakers, including from the Nepal Peasants and Workers Party, voted against it.
Taking into consideration the demands of the Madhes-based parties, the amendment has included provisions to ensure proportional representation and electoral constituencies based on population. For that, two articles — Article 42 and Article 286 — were amended.
After the amendment, the Speaker deferred the House till 11 am on Monday.
Article 42 - Right to Social Justice 1.Socially backward women, Dalits, Adivasi, Janajati, Khas Arya, Madhesi, Tharu, minority groups, persons with disability, marginalised groups, Muslim, backward classes, gender and sexual minority groups, youth, peasants, labourers, the oppressed and the citizens of backward regions, shall have the right to employment in state structures and public service on the basis of the principle of inclusion.*
*Now, this article will be guided by the principle of proportional inclusion.
Article 84 - Constitution of House of Representatives (5) The House of Representatives shall consist of 275 members as follows: (a) 165 members elected through the first-past-the-post electoral system consisting of one member from each of 165 electoral constituencies, formed by dividing Nepal into 165 constituencies based on geography and population. ** Article 286 - Constituency Delimitation Commission (5) The Constituency Delimitation Commission, while delimiting the constituencies in accordance with this Article, shall consider geography and population the basis for representation, and maintain as far as practicable the equal ratio or proportionality between geography, population and the number of members.**
**With today’s amendment, the Constituency Delimitation Commission (Article 286) shall consider population the first priority and geography the second while fixing 165 electoral constituencies (Article 84) as per the federal laws. What is more, each district in the provinces shall have at least one electoral constituency.
Earlier, as many as 24 amendment proposals on the Bill were registered at the House. The House concluded clause-wise discussion on the Bill yesterday. The major parties had simultaneously held discussion with the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front leaders to forge consensus and bring them on board the amendment process in order to resolve the Tarai agitation.
Earlier this evening when the House started, Madhesi lawmakers protested the constitution amendment bill. They chanted slogans during the House proceedings.
Agni Kharel responded to the lawmakers’ views aired during the clause-wise discussion on Thursday and Friday.
Later when the Speaker put the Bill to vote, the lawmakers of four Madhesi parties walked out of the House.