Govt drafts new constitution amendment bill

Kathmandu, April 8

The government is likely to endorse the draft of a new constitution amendment bill tomorrow and register it in the Parliament within a few days.

Minister of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Ajay Shankar Nayak told THT the government would withdraw the current constitution amendment bill from the Parliament on Monday and register a new bill in the House.

He said the contents of the new draft bill would comprise seven or eight points and it would seek revision of provincial boundaries through a commission. “Such a commission will be formed on the basis of proportional inclusion,” he said and added that the government would propose to revise provincial boundaries with the consent of the provinces concerned instead of seeking consent of a majority of provincial assemblies.

Article 274 (7) of the new constitution states that revision of provincial boundaries would be rejected if majority of provinces did not accept it.

Minister Nayak said the bill would also propose to remove Article 295, which provisions formation of transitional federal commission for revising provincial boundaries. The draft bill also proposes to delink voting rights of chiefs and deputy chiefs of the local levels in the Upper House.

Nayak said the new bill would seek to establish a permanent commission for revision of provincial boundaries with terms of reference attached.  The new draft bill contains the same proposals on three issues — language, citizenship and representation in the Upper House.

Although Nayak said the government had prepared the new draft of the bill with the consent of the United Democratic Madhesi Front, front leaders dismissed his claim.

Chair of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Upendra Yadav said the government had not informed UDMF leaders about the contents of the new bill. When asked to comment on the draft’s proposal that provincial boundaries be revised on the basis of a report submitted by a commission, Yadav said, the most important thing  would be to see what ToR would  be attached to such a commission. “In the past, numerous commissions were formed, but their reports were never implemented,” he said. Yadav also said the UDMF had not accepted the current seven-province model and hence would not accept the government’s proposal to revise provincial boundaries with the consent of the province concerned. Yadav said the concerned province might never consent to revision of provincial boundaries.

General Secretary of Tarai Madhes Democratic Party Sarvendranath Shukla said the prime minister wanted to engage the UDMF in preparing the draft of the new constitution amendment bill, but the UDMF told him that it could not be part of such efforts mainly because the outcome was uncertain. “The PM has not been able to assure us that the new bill will be passed in the Parliament. Why should we be part of the government’s effort to prepare the bill,” Shukla said and added that the UDMF had not been extending support to the government and it was not under obligation to support the government’s efforts to prepare a new constitution amendment bill.

Co-chair of Federal Socialist Forum-Nepal Rajendra Shrestha said the new bill should also ensure local levels are under the jurisdiction of the province and not the centre.