Doubt prevails over simple majority to uproot monarchy

Kathmandu, May 5:

Though the first meeting of the Constituent Assembly is said to abolish the monarchy, confusion prevails as to whether a simple majority of the assembly can abolish the over 240-year-old institution.

Though the originally the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, had a provision to abolish the monarchy by two thirds majority, the third amendment to the constitution is silent on the number of assembly members required to endorse the republican agenda. “The Third Amendment is silent on the issue. A constitutional provision cannot be amended without two thirds majority. There is an urgent need to amend the Constitution to abolish the monarchy,” advocate Chandra Kanta Gyawali told this daily.

“Unless the constitutional provision is amended, the country cannot be switched to a republican set-up,” he added. Gyawali said a mere political resolution of the CA wouldn’t be sufficient to implement the republican agenda. Article 159(2)(2) of the interim constitution reads: The republican agenda shall be implemented by the first meeting of the CA. “Article 4 states that the county is a democratic nation and now an amendment to the Constitution is required to turn the country into a republic one,” he added.

Senior advocate Shree Hari Aryal, however, said a simple majority is sufficient to endorse the proposal to abolish the monarchy. Aryal, who is also a legal advisor to the Nepali Congress, said, “Since there is no special provision, a common rule can be applied while implementing the republican agenda.” “Article 75 will apply in this case. As per the article, a simple majority of the CA members can decide on any agenda except those which require two thirds majority for approval,” Aryal added.

“One can argue: how can a 240-year-old institution be abolished by a simple majority, but such an argument is improper as there is no special constitutional requirement for it,” he said.

Maoist MP Khim Lal Devkota said there is no requirement of two thirds majority to abolish the monarchy and a simple majority can implement the republican agenda. “A simple majority can implement the republican proposal, as the CA will just be implementing a decision taken by the parliament,” he claimed.