Partial statute way out, says minister

KATHMANDU: Minister for Law and Justice Prem Bahadur Singh today said promulgation of ‘complete constitution’ is not possible within the May 28 deadline. “A complete constitution is not possible within the remaining time; the constitution must be promulgated within the deadline. So a “partial” draft could be prepared with remaining issues to be dealt later,” Singh told The Himalayan Times. The minister added that the remaining work could be carried out under the partial constitution by enshrining such constitutional power.

He, however, said that as he was not in favour of extending the tenure of the Constituent Assembly, he will not ‘personally’ or ‘officially’ make effort to that end. He added that he will not prepare and present draft bill to amend the Interim Constitution to extend the tenure of the sovereign body. “As the political leadership is not dedicated and honest in the constitution-drafting process we may not be able to meet the deadline,” he reasoned.

Nevertheless, he maintained that CA tenure extension was not a legal question. Singh said the political parties should resolve the issue through political consensus. “Constitution cannot be promulgated after May 28 as the CA is elected for two years,” Singh said. He, however, argued if the process of constitution-drafting was moving ahead smoothly the people would consider giving some more months, though.

Meanwhile, he accused the political leadership for not integrating the Maoist combatants as required for promulgation of new constitution.

The Legislature-Parliament can take the responsibility of the CA after May 28, he argued. “There are no complicated issues except federalism and state restructuring but those issues can be settled even after the promulgation of the partial constitution,” Singh argued.

Despite being Constitutional Committee members, leaders of political parties have not been serious in attending the committee meetings, he said.

Singh accused that political parties were running after power and not honest in statute-drafting process. “They are after making and dissolving the government but they are not honest in constitution making,” he alleged.

Citing examples of amendment of US Constitution and Indian Constitution, Singh maintained that a constitution is never complete; amendment is always possible so it is not much a deal even if some contentious issues are dealt after the promulgation.

This is very natural to constitutional evolution, he quipped.