Second thoughts

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered the government to implement the Social Behaviour (Reform) Act, 2033, fully. It also instructed the government to take departmental action against any of its employees found guilty of violating this law. The law has been in limbo for more than three decades, as the then rulers had made it merely for populist motives. Indeed, there have been a number of laws in Nepal that have been characterised by non-implementation. The law in question seeks to regulate the details of maximum expenditure to be incurred and the number of people to be invited to parties on such social occasions as marriage, brantambandha and feeding ceremony. But no sooner had the law been promulgated than those in high positions of power set the tone for breaking it in broad daylight.

The fact that a law exists means it is to be respected. But the central question is whether the court orders will be carried out. Implementation is highly unlikely, first, because top political leaders, bureaucrats, other high-ranking government employees, and the judges themselves have not honoured the law when their turns came. The law has been in disuse, perhaps because Nepali society was not ready for its strict provisions. A more sensible course would, however, be to examine the law thoroughly and to make it more practicable and hence enforceable in the present time.