EDITORIAL: Mature verdict

A way forward to find a win-win situation for all the parties is to sit together and find a way out as per the SC verdict

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Monday regarding the registration of constitution amendment bill has put to rest the controversy related to redrawing boundaries of the Pradeshes. In its verdict, a division bench comprising Chief Justice Sushila Karki and Justice Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada, however, refused to issue an interim order regarding the second amendment bill registered by the government in Parliament Secretariat as sought by advocate Tika Dhwoj Khadka and five other petitioners. The division bench observed that there was no legal hurdle to proceed with the bill if the government deemed it necessary. The apex court has clearly stated that it is the sovereign Parliament where any bill can be discussed and it can also test whether or not any bill is in conformity with the constitutional provision. The court, however, observed that if a bill violates any constitutional provision the court will be in “a situation to declare such law ultra vires”. It means that the government can table the second amendment bill in Parliament to redraw boundary of the Pradesh No-5 and the latter may also pass it with a two-thirds majority. But the SC shall test whether or not the amendment made so is as per the Article 274 and 296.

The nine opposition parties led by the main opposition, the CPN-UML, have been obstructing the parliament demanding that the bill be withdrawn since its registration on November 29. The opposition has claimed that the amendment proposal is against Article 274 which states that it requires an approval of a majority of the Pradesh Assemblies if the boundary of any Pradesh is to be redrawn. The SC verdict has clearly stated that election of the Pradesh Assembly is a must to redraw the boundaries of Pradeshes as their consent is a must to do so. Some Madhes-based parties have threatened to disrupt the elections if they are held without redrawing the boundaries. The verdict has also established the fact that no Pradesh boundaries can be changed by the transformed Legislature-Parliament even if the major political parties and agitating Madhes-based parties agree to do so. The bench has thus safeguarded rights of the Pradesh Assemblies.

Following the SC verdict on the second amendment bill, the major political parties and the agitating Madhes-based ones have no other option but to find a way out of the present crisis. One thing is clear: the government can table the bill to make second amendment to the constitution redrawing boundary of Pradesh No-5. But, if it is passed, it may be termed unconstitutional given the SC verdict. A way forward to find a win-win situation for all the parties is to sit together and find a way out as per the SC verdict, which has clearly cautioned Parliament to keep in mind the constitutional provisions related to rights of the Pradeshes and their boundaries fixed. Therefore, the political parties need to put their stances aside and start negotiations afresh so that three tiers of elections can be held before January 21, 2018, the deadline set by the new constitution. Any move to redraw boundaries of any Pradesh before the elections under the new constitution will be meaningless.

Dust pollution

Air pollution has reached alarming levels in the capital city well up the limit set. Despite this, not much has been done to provide relief to the valley’s denizens to breathe clean air. The provision for providing a clean and healthy environment in the constitution of the land is not being heeded by the government and others concerned.  These days the pollution of air has been growing particularly after the major earthquake last year. The dust is generated in areas where construction works are underway and this is believed to be responsible for the ever deteriorating quality of air. Dust is generated mostly when roads, pavements, heritage sites, drinking water projects and drainage are built.

The constitution has provisions to grant compensation to those who suffer as a result of environmental pollution and also degradation. But so far such compensation is yet to be provided. As a result, many pedestrians in particular and also those residing near the dusty roads suffer from severe respiratory problems. Wearing of masks is of little help for it does not provide adequate protection from the huge amount of dust generated. It is high time the construction works were completed sooner than later.