House passes Constitution Amendment Bill, 461 votes for the amendment

ParliamentKathmandu / January 23: The Legislature-Parliament finally passed the ‘Constitution of Nepal (first amendment) Bill 2072’ on Saturday night.

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, Agni Prasad Kharel had presented a proposal seeking the passage of ‘Nepal’s Constitution (first amendment) Bill 2072′ in the parliament.

As per the constitutional provision of two-thirds majority needed for the passage of the bill, the meeting adopted the process for voting.

A total of 461 lawmakers voted for the passage, while seven against it. Seven lawmakers including from that of Nepal Workers and Peasants’ Party voted against the amendment. But, as the Speaker announced for the voting, the lawmakers affiliated to the United Democratic Madhesi Front exited the meeting hall.

The passed proposal (bill) will come into effect immediately after the President certifies it. Now, the bill will be sent to President Bidya Bhandari for certifying it. The constitution promulgated on September 20 has 35 Parts, 308 Articles and 9 Annexes. With the passage of the bill, Articles 42 and 286 have been amended.

The provision of ‘socially backward ethnicity, class, community and economically backward Khas Arya shall have the rights to have participation in every State structure based on the principles of inclusion’ in Article 42 is now amended with ‘the economically socially and educationally backward women, Dalit, indigenous, marginalized, peasants, labours and the economically backward class shall have the rights to participation in State structure.’

Similarly, the constituency will be delineated being based first on population and second on geography. The sub clause 5 of Article 286, mentioning ‘the Constituency Delimitation Commission, while delimiting the constituencies in accordance with this Article, shall, based on population and geography, maintain as far as practicable the equal ratio or proportionality between geography, population and the number of members’ amended as ‘While delimiting the constituency, population and geography would be based by maintaining at least one constituency in each currently existing district.’

The UDMF had been waging agitation over the constitution. It has been raising the issues as delimitation of federal province, proportional representation and constituency based on population.

The government had decided to forward the Bill on Constitution Amendment on the recommendation of the major parties. The erstwhile government had tabled the Bill in the Parliament to address the demands of the agitating United Democratic Madhesi Front.

The Bill stipulates incorporating the proportional inclusive principle in appointments to the different state bodies and determining at least one electoral constituency in every district while giving priority to the population when determining the remaining electoral constituencies.

Majority of the lawmakers taking part in the clause-wise discussions on the Bill that commenced in the Parliament from Thursday pointed out the need of positive thinking and constructive support for addressing the issues raised in the Tarai Madhes.

They remarked that the amendment of the constitution has helped all to understand that the national charter is a dynamic document that could be amended within a short time of its promulgation if people wanted so and the need arose.

Claiming that the amendment bill has provided the ground for addressing the demands raised by the Madhes-centric parties, the lawmakers had stressed on maintaining one lectoral constituency in one district and giving priority to population and geography while determining the remaining constituencies.

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Agni Prasad Kharel said the constitution amendment proposal was advanced to address the demands of the Tarai-Madhes agitation and the difficulties faced by the country.

He added that the constitution was promulgated in agreement among the major parties represented in the Constituent Assembly (CA) and with aspirations of more than two-third members. He added that the constitution had enshrined maximum values and norms of democracy.

Stating that constitution amendment was a regular process, Minister Kharel added that the new constitution institutionalized republic, federalism, democracy, secularism, inclusiveness and proportionality.

The Tarai-Madhes centric parties had expressed dissatisfaction over the constitution promulgated on September 20, 2015 after which the then government registered an amendment proposal on October 7.

The Minister was optimistic the constitution amendment bill would address the sentiment of Tarai-Madhes while adding that agreement on the bill will be reached tomorrow if not today.

An additional provision for right to participation in the state organs for women lagging behind in terms of economy and social education, indigenous nationalities, marginalized communities, farmers, labourers and economically backward classes has been embedded.

The Electoral Constituency Delineation Commission has also added a provision for making the population size and geography the first and second basis respectively with at least one constituency in every district.

Lawmakers Prem Suwal, Durga Poudel and Jayadev Joshi did not withdraw their amendment proposal after registering it. The House rejected their proposals.

Farmullah Mansoor, Minendra Rijal, Prakash Sharan Mahat, Ram Narayan Bidari, Daljit Shripali, Tulasa Rana and Pratishya Tiwari Mukhiya among others withdrew the amendment proposal which they had registered.

Amendment process proceeding forcefully, accuses Front

The agitating United Democratic Madheshi Front has accused that the constitution amendment bill which has been forwarded by the major political parties was being proceeded without bringing on board the Front.

Vice-Chairman of Sadbhawana Party, Laxmanlal Karna claimed that the disgruntled Madhesh-centric political parties were not involved in the talks concerning the same. Hence, the decision of the major political parties to forward the Bill was their arbitrary act.

He argued that the Bill is being pushed forward as in the times of the promulgation of the new constitution. Talking to journalist, Vice-Chairperson Karna said, “Some four/five political parties have forged a consensus on forwarding the Constitution Amendment Bill. It does not have our consensus.”

He went to sharing, “We picketed the rostrum, which is likely to disrupt the Legislature-Parliament. But here, even this practice was not observed.”

Karna clarified that the ongoing agitation in various districts across the southern plains will continue as their demands are still unheeded. “The provisions in the proposed Bill do not meet our demands.”

Similarly, NWPP’s Prem Suwal said his party voted against the amendment bill, reasoning that such a very significant issue was not discussed and debated to the extent it had to be.

The next meeting of the Legislature-Parliament is slated to take place on January 25, Monday, at 1 pm. RSS

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