The Constitution began looking inadequate when sovereignty expressed through Parliament began losing its role.
G E Moore, while defining â€œgood,â€ writes, â€œGood is good and nothing elseâ€. To him, any attempt to define â€œgoodâ€ in terms of pleasure or value is to commit a fallacy. These days, the seven-party alliance is trying to redefine democracy, in terms of â€œTotal or Complete Democracyâ€ while setting it as the goal of their political struggle. In recent years, some social scientists and politicians have started using a word â€œinclusiveâ€ before democracy, as they are not satisfied with the conventional parameters of a democratic regime, which has failed to include all groups of people within its fold. Since several groups are marginalised and subjected to discrimination, they want to be invariably included. Hence, they use an adjective,
â€˜inclusive,â€™ before the word â€˜democracyâ€™ to strengthen their contention. Democracy as such is introduced as a system only with a view to including all sections of the people to choose their own government for their own benefits, as the very Greek word â€œDemokratiaâ€ (Democracy), means â€œrule by the people.â€ Exclusion of some people entails faulty implementation of the process as democracy always stands for the greatest good of the greatest number.
Similarly, the new adjective â€œtotal or complete â€œ used to qualify democracy does not mean anything more or less than what democracy stands for. Democracy presupposes neither constructive/absolute monarchy nor the army being out of the peopleâ€™s control. It seems that the political parties have started qualifying democracy from two perspectives. The first is concerned with the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 1990 which was proclaimed as the outcome of the political compromise document agreed upon by the King on one side and the political parties on the other. Although the Constitution reflected the peopleâ€™s aspirations, it gradually started falling short when the sovereignty of the people as envisaged in the Constitution, expressed through the parliament, started losing its role in the process of governance. The normal implementation of the norms of the parliamentary system was getting derailed and the political stakeholders had no political will to oppose the moves of the King. The nominations of members to the Upper House continued to be made without the recommendation of the cabinet. The violation of constitutional obligation reached its zenith when a sitting nominated member was asked to resign by the King, which was executed immediately without any resistance. The then chairman of the Upper House too accepted the resignation humbly. He clearly overlooked his duty of safeguarding the letter and spirit of the Constitution by which he was bound both morally and legally through the oath.
The parliament, sovereign body representing the wishes of the sovereign people, was hardly recognised, as a bill passed by both Houses of Parliament was never approved by the King. In a constitutional monarchy, a monarch does not act on his own. He acts only as per the advice of an authority, which is authorised by the Constitution to do so. The King sent the bill to the Supreme Court for its comments without any advice of any competent authority. All these prove that neither the late King was ready to live as a titular head nor the present King is inclined to function any longer within the bounds of the Constitution. The second perspective is related to the control of the army. Earlier, an army was needed for territorial expansion or safeguarding of the international borders. Since now there are two military giants surrounding
Nepal, the army has lost its conventional significance except for containing the Maoist insurgency. But during the last six decades the role of the army has cha-nged inversely. It has been used to indirectly destroy the democratic regime brought in with due approval of the King by way of the royal proclamations. Hence, the political parties are at one on bringing the army under the control of the parliament.
Interestingly, not only the party/parties in power but other parties too did not take up the issue of the violation of the Constitution seriously as they were busy sharing power. They overlooked their duty of strengthening the democracy and kept themselves busy in enjoying the fruits of democracy. Now they have been thrown out of power, they have risen from their dream of power enjoyment as Immanuel Kant was aroused by Humeâ€™s scepticism from his dogmatic slumber. Of late, the political leaders have started to evaluate not only their incompetence but also the shortcomings of the Constitution. They want to rectify the shortcomings either by rewriting the Constitution through a constituent assembly or by bringing back the role of the constitutional monarch through agitation. But an option of declaring the Kingdom a republic is still left out which they do not want to commit openly. Perhaps, the underlying meaning of total or complete democracy is nothing but â€œthe state of republic,â€ which may be their compulsion.
Professor Mishra is a former election commissioner