Nepal, a landlocked nation in South Asia, lies tucked at the base of the Himalayas. It has an area of 381,200 sq km (147,181 sq miles). To the south, west, and east it is bordered by Indian states; to the north lies Tibet, an Autonomous region of China. Its territory extends roughly 800 kms (500 mi) from east to west and 90 to 150 miles from north to south and lies between latitudes 26* and 31* N, and 80* and 88* E.
The capital city of Nepal is Kathmandu.
Nepal is home to the Himalayan Mountains, including Mount Everest (8848m.). From the summit of Everest, the topography plunges to just 64m. above sea level at the Gangetic Plain on the southern border. This drop divides the country into three horizontal zones: the high mountains, the lush central hills, and the flat arid Terai region in the south.
Fast-moving, snow-fed rivers cut through the hills and mountains from north to south, carving deep valleys and steep ridges. The rugged topography has created numerous ecological niches to which different ethnic groups have adapted. Although trade has brought distinct ethnic groups into contact, geography has created diversity in language and subsistence practices. The result is a country with over thirty-six ethnic groups and over fifty languages and the current population is 29.14 m (2020).
The meaning of Federalism in Nepal
Article 83 of the Constitution of Nepal defines the Federal Parliament as Federal Legislature: There shall be a Federal Legislature consisting of two Houses to be known as the House of Representatives and the National Assembly, which shall be called the Federal Parliament.
In the federal system, power is always shared rather than vesting it in the hands of a single entity. Power is shared to make sure it is not concentrated in a single hand which could to corruption as wise men once said “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” therefore, power is separated and shared in the federal system to avoid power abuse.
The topography of Nepal is quite diverse; Himalayas, hills, and plains. So are the ethnicities and cultures. Like the Sherpas, Thakalis, Bhotiyas, Manangis etc are natives of the mountainous regions. Tamangs, Magars, Kirats, Brahmins, Chhetris etc are of hilly regions and similarly Yadavs, Tharus, Mithilas etc are of plains.
Accounting to topography, ethnicity, and culture, Nepal also boasts of linguistic variety,the not all people from plains speak one tongue, each region has a unique language of its own and the same goes for the hills and mountains people too, however, Nepali is an official language nationwide. Thus topography, ethnicity, languages, cultures, plus natural resources are the foundations for the division of the federal structure in Nepal that gave birth to the 7 Provincial states.
Earlier when Nepal was still a kingdom, it was divided into five development regions viz Eastern Development Region, Central Development Region, Western Development Region, Mid-Western Development Region, and Far-Western Development Region. The division like provinces was also based on natural resources, rivers, and the population of ethnic groups taking the geographical distributions (mountains, hills, and plains) into account
The current Federal Structure of Nepal
Nepal’s new Constitution envisions the three-tier of Governments in Nepal, whilst previously there was just one.
- Central or Federal Government based in Kathmandu, the capital.
- 7 Provincial Governments.
- 753 Local Governments which include 6 Metropolitan Cities (Mahanagarpalika), 11 Sub Metropolitan Cities (Upa–Mahanagarpalika), 276 Municipalities (Nagarpalika) and 460 Rural Municipalities (Gaunpalika).
Within Provinces and Local governments, there are 77 districts, each district is governed by a District Coordination Committee which has lesser powers than the Local Governments that assist in coordinating activities of several sub-local governments within it.
Central Government of Nepal
Based in Kathmandu mainly Singhadurbar, it is the main Government in Nepal. Its functions are laid out in the constitution but its chief responsibility among many others are national defense and conducting foreign relations.
Provincial Governments of Nepal
Nepal is divided into 7 Provinces, and each headquarters exercise certain authority as defined by the Constitution.
- Province No. 1 – Biratnagar
- Madesh Province – Janakpur
- Bagmati Province – Hetauda
- Gandaki Province – Pokhara
- Lumbini Province – Deukhuri
- Karnali Province – Birendranagar
- Sudurpaschim Province – Godawari
77 Districts of Nepal
Districts are also important administrative structures but much of their power has now been transferred to provinces and local governments. Each of 77 has District Administration Office headed by a Chief District Officer (CDO) who issues citizenship and controls the law and order in the area. There also are District Police Forces, District Courts, District Attorney’s Offices, and District Coordination Committees. This current arrangement especially of CDO may change, as provinces might want to have more say over law and order in the districts that fall under it.
Each Local Government is divided into several wards (Woda), the subdivisions. A Ward has an elected Ward Chairperson and 4 other members, they run Ward committees that records and issue birth/death/marriage certificates. Netizens first have to acquire a recommendation from their respective Ward office to apply for a citizenship card at the District Administrative Offices.
The Division of Tiers of Government in Nepal
Parliament of Nepal
The Parliament of Nepal is a bicameral legislature. A legislature is the law-making body of a political unit, usually a national government, that has the power to amend and repeal public policy. Laws enacted by legislatures are known as legislation. Legislatures observe and steer governing actions and usually have exclusive authority to amend the budget or budgets involved in the process. It involves two types of electoral processes.
- Total Number of Seats – 275
- Direct Voting (First Past the Post) Seats – 165
- Direct Voting (Proportional System) – 110
There are a total of 165 constituencies in Nepal, which elect one candidate each to the Parliament.
After electing 165, another 110 are nominated by each Party based on their Vote Share nationwide (i.e. Nepal becomes one constituency, and each Political Party gets the number of seats based on the percentage of people voting for their particular Party)
The major political parties who keep contesting the elections are: –
- The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) – CPN-UML
- Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist Centre – CPN (MC)
- Nepali Congress
- Rashtriya Janata Party – Nepal
- Sanghiya Samajwadi Forum – Nepal, etc.
National Assembly (Rashtriya Sabha)
This is the upper house of the legislature, which represents the states. The total No. of seats is 59, Each State nominates 8 nominees from each province which makes 56 in total, and the remaining 3 are nominated by President. The members of the State Assembly, Mayors, Chairpersons, Deputy Mayors, and Vice-Chairpersons of all the local level bodies are the electoral college. So, Total Number of the Members of Parliament – 275 + 59 = 334
There are 7 States, and each State has its election for its Assembly.
Total No. of Districts – 77
Total No. of Constituencies – 330
All these 330 candidates are elected directly by the people.
Local Level Bodies
Total No. of Nagarpalikas – 293, and are governed by Mayor, Deputy Mayor, Ward Members.
Total No. of Gaunpalikas – 460, and are governed by Chairperson, Vice – Chairperson, Ward Members.
All of them are elected directly by the people.
Local Body Elections
Local Body election is done in phases or within the same day in the country. The election takes place once in every 5 years and on the basis of that the government members are finalized.
State Elections and Parliament Elections (Together)
These are usually done in phases as phase 1 and phase 2.
National Assembly (Upper House Indirect Elections)
The election is done after the completion of state and parliament elections.
Selection of Nepal President
The President is elected by an electoral college comprising of all the MPs (Members of Parliament) and all the members of the Provincial (State) legislatures. The total number of members in the parliament are 605. Similarly, the President of the nation has 5 years of ruling tenure.
Under the Interim Constitution, executive power is vested in a Council of Ministers headed by a Prime Minister. Prime Minister is selected from the Members of Parliament and has total of 5 years of ruling tenure same as the President.
The Prime Minister and other members of the Council of Ministers are chosen through a ‘Political Consensus’ among the seven main political parties, failing which a leader commanding majority support in parliament is appointed as the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers are collectively responsible to Parliament while individual ministers are responsible to both Parliament and the Prime Minister. The function of the executive is increasing day by day in this modern age.
There is a lot of work that the executive has to perform. It is the duty of the executives to maintain law and order in the country. The executive has to fulfill the basic needs of the people like food, shelter, clothing, education, and health services. The executive makes important appointments and transfers, and controls and supervises all civil and military departments and their subordinates.
The court system of Nepal is made up of a Supreme Court (Sarbochha Adalat), Appellate Courts, District Courts, and special courts established by law.
The Supreme Court is the highest court with the power to inspect, supervise, and give directives to the lower courts. It has original and appellate jurisdiction over cases involving the constitution and federal laws. It may declare laws unconstitutional and enforce fundamental rights.
The Supreme Court is composed of 15 members, including a Chief Justice. The Prime Minister appoints the Chief Justice on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council, and the Chief Justice, in turn, appoints the other Justices on the recommendation of the Judicial Council. The Justices of the Supreme Court retire at the age of 65 and judges in lower courts at the age of 63. A supreme court judge may resign or be impeached by a two-thirds vote of the legislature.
The power given to courts to interpret the law is called jurisdiction. The jurisdiction granted to the judicial branch is limited to federal and constitutional laws. The federal courts hear cases where a person or group disobeyed the constitution, violated a treaty, committed a crime on federal property, or broke federal law. They also hear cases when a citizen from one state sues a citizen of another state. The federal courts also hear cases when a foreign country accuses a government official or Nepali citizen of a crime against their nation. The lower courts’ decisions in these cases set precedent. The lower court judges are required to give legal reasons for their decisions. Precedent sets an example to follow for future cases with related subjects. The decisions reached in these courts can have a significant effect on the citizens of our country.