Loud and clear

The dissolution of the Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) is much more than just an unconstitutional body going out of existence. The constitutional points the Supreme Court has dwelt on while delivering the judgement on Monday bear directly or indirectly on the present constitutional crisis, which has led to a costly confrontation between the palace and the political parties. So the verdict’s political ramifications are far-reaching, though these do not necessarily mean that they will trigger executive actions to do full justice to the contents of the verdict beyond the RCCC disbandment. The verdict has upheld the provisions of the 1990 Constitution; it has reasserted that the people being sovereign are the source of all state powers; it has rejected the present executive’s interpretation of Article 127, and defined its limits. Above all, it has established that nobody can interpret the Constitution to suit his or her convenience and still not be subject to judicial scrutiny. The verdict has severely weakened the legal basis of the present dispensation.

But this is no time for the political forces merely to score brownie points. The imperative need is for breaking the political and constitutional stalemate. The verdict has opened a window of opportunity for the royal government to take steps towards national accommodation at a time when it has nothing to write home about on political, security, constitutional and economic fronts. The fiasco of the civic polls — notwithstanding the overstretched efforts of government leaders to play them up as a success — has given the public a good idea of what the village and parliamentary elections will look like. The government’s road map has convinced most people that, at best, it is taking them to an uncertain future.

As a consequence of the judgement, the government will increasingly be on the defensive trying to justify its hold in power. Pressure from within and outside the country is likely to grow even more for the restoration of democracy and removal of the curbs on fundamental rights. In this context, the wise course for it would be to utilise the court verdict as a first step towards the restoration of democratic norms and values and save its face too, as more delay may further restrict its room for manoeuvre. If the government is seeking an honourable way out of the mess, the court, in interpreting Article 127, has made things easier for it by decreeing that the King can invoke Article 127 in order to remove a hurdle that arises in the constitutional process. The message is loud and clear.