Skipping provisions ‘must’ to bring statute by May 27

KATHMANDU, March 30: With the Supreme Court upholding its verdict on CA term extension, it has become certain that the CA must skip some of the crucial constitutional as well as procedural provisions to promulgate the new constitution by the May 27 deadline.

As of now, the Constitutional Committee, which is entrusted with preparing the first integrated draft report of the new constitution by incorporating all the draft reports of the 11 thematic committees, is struggling to resolve some of the key thorny issues such as the system of governance, judiciary and federal system to be incorporated in the new constitution.

The major tasks the CA is yet to accomplish include resolving disputes, preparing an integrated draft, seeking public feedback on the draft and holding deliberations on the draft in the full CA house.

The draft will then be forwarded to CC for finalization by incorporating public feedback. After incorporating public feedback, the drafting committee will prepare a draft in the form of a constitution bill to be tabled in CA for approval.

CA members will then be allowed to register their amendments (if any) and there will be clause-wise deliberations over the draft and amendments.

Moreover, Article 70 of the interim constitution requires consensus on all the provisions. In the event of failure to forge consensus, the parliamentary party leaders of the political parties represented in the CA shall hold mutual consultations in order to reach consensus on the disputed issues. As per the constitutional provision, the leaders will be given a 22-day timeline to resolve the disputes.

The constitutional provision will be invoked even if a single lawmaker questions or disagrees with any one of the proposed articles. However, the constitution bill may finally be past by two-thirds majority in the CA.

Officials at the CA secretariat said amendment to Article 70 of the interim constitution has become imperative because it is next to impossible to abide by the provision owing to time constraints.

“I have time and again urged the top leaders to take initiatives to amend the provision and they are positive,” Speaker Subas Nembang told Republica.

Officials at the secretariat, however, are dismayed at the political leaders´ apathy.

According to officials, preparation of the integrated draft by technical experts would require one month. “At least, we must allocate 15 days for drafting. We can do it in two weeks only if a team works round the clock without disputing,” Legal Advisor at the CA secretariat, Tek Prasad Dhungana, who is closely involved in the constitution writing process, told Republica.

He said preparing the integrated draft would be very monotonous and time consuming task. “We can´t afford to work in haste because a minor slip may cause constitutional ambiguity in future,” he explained.

Some other top officials, however, see very less possibility of creating such an environment given the working style of the political leadership.

Leaders are lately mulling an alternative with regard to reaching out to the people. Officials said they are planning to publish the first integrated draft in major national dailies simultaneously and circulate booklets. Officials said the idea has convinced leaders because the lawmakers had already fanned out across the country before preparing the preliminary draft report seeking public feedback on the new constitution.

Officials believe that the issue of whether the CA will be able to promulgate the new constitution largely depends on top political leaders´ ability to move ahead through consensus.

“If they keep aside their differences and express readiness to work jointly through mutual trust, the matter of procedural tasks will no longer remain a problem,” said the official. “But that is the big deficit ailing our leaders.”by THIRA L BHUSAL from Republica

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