Making Nepal’s Constitution

June 24, 2012 | Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy

Those following the recent controversies on the Ambedkar cartoon on constitution making in India should take notice of the contemporary debate on the failed attempt at constitution making by Nepal’s Constituent Assembly. Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal have all struggled to put together a post-Independence or post-revolutionary Constitution in a reasonable time. Nepal’s current predicament deserves special attention as the Constituent Assembly adopted several strategies from the Indian experience: informal caucuses of senior leaders and consensus based adoption of articles bypassing parliamentary rules of procedure. Leena Rikkila Tamang argues that these strategies contributed to the failure of the Constituent Assembly and any renewed effort must commit to a more rigorous democratic process within the Assembly. While the inclusive character of the constitution making character is a key predictor of the durability of constitutions, an overemphasis of this feature of the constitution making process may lead to a protracted constitutional impasse. Afghanistan, the only South Asian country besides India, to have adopted a Constitution soon after it’s revolution, did so through consensus at a traditional Loya Jirga Assembly.

Dr. Sudhir Krishnaswamy

Managing Trustee

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