Kathmandu, July 13

Unlike the Interim Constitution, the draft of the new constitution has incorporated a provision about the removal of the commander-in-chief (C-in-C) of the Nepali Army.

Likewise, the the Council of Ministers is authorised to mobilise, operate and manage the Nepali Army on the recommendation of National Defence Council, a role which is currently played by the President on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers.

The provision is based on the legal principle that ‘one who appoints someone can also remove him/her

— UCPN-M lawmaker Ram Narayan Bidari, a member of Constitution Drafting Committee

Lawmakers who were involved in drafting of the proposed constitution said that the provision of the removal of the commander-in-chief was included as per the principle that ‘one who appoints C-in-C can also remove him/her’. However, experts observe these changes are an attempt to reduce the roles of President and control the Army and make them loyal to the government.

In the proposed constitution, the President’s role has been stated ‘to receive the annual report of the National Defence Council’ and ‘appoint and remove the C-in-C as provided for in law’.

In the Interim Constitution, there is no provision of ‘removing’ a C-in-C, but nevertheless the Army Act 2007 has mentioned condition(s) as per which ‘C-in-C is considered no longer in his/her post’.

Ram Narayan Bidari, a member of the Constitution Drafting Committee and Unified CPN-Maoist lawmaker, said: “This provision is based on the legal principle that ‘one who appoints someone can also remove him/her’.

He stated that there was no connection between incorporating the provision and ‘unsuccessful bid of UCPN-Maoist government to remove then C-in-C Rookmangud Katawal in 2009’.

The provision could have been mentioned in the draft for two possible reasons — either to make the army loyal to the government or to control it

Balananda Sharma, Lt Gen (Rtd)

Experts expressed fear that based on this provision, the Council of Ministers might remove a serving C-in-C and appoint a new one by bringing law, if so is deemed necessary.

It might give a sense of insecurity to a serving C-in-C and cause instability in the entire army institution, said Maj Gen (Rtd) BA Kumar Sharma, who had long served in the Nepal Army’s Law Department.

Lt Gen (Rtd) Balananda Sharma observed that such provision could have been mentioned in the draft for two possible reasons — either to make the Army loyal to the government or to control it. He cautioned that this might lead to politicisation of the armed force, that will only be detrimental to democracy.

President Ram Baran Yadav too had expressed his concern with top leaders of four parties — Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, UCPN-Maoist and Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Democratic — during his meeting with them in Shital Niwas on Friday about the new provision regarding the national army. He had urged to pay due consideration to the sensitivity of the armed force and ensure that NA provision remains intact as per the existing constitution.

The provision could give a sense of insecurity to a serving commander-in-chief and cause instability in the entire army institution

— BA Kumar Sharma, Maj Gen (Rtd)

The Nepal Army yesterday consulted former army chiefs and its top brass regarding the matter. It has also called for keeping commander-in-chief as a member of the National Defence Council, whose five members, as per the proposed constitution are — prime minister as its chair and ministers for home, foreign affairs, defence and finance as members.

COMPARISON

Interim Constitution 2007

•    Article 144 (2): The President shall, on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, appoint the Commander-in-Chief of the Nepali Army.

(3) The President shall, on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, control, mobilise and manage the Nepali Army in accordance with law

Draft Constitution 2015

•    Article 261(1): There shall be National Defence Council to formulate policies for Nepal’s overall national interests, security and defence, and in order to make recommendations to the Council of Ministers, Government of Nepal on mobilisation, operation and management of Nepali Army

•    Article 262(4): The President shall appoint or remove the Commander-in-Chief of Nepal Army as provided by law.