The constitution in any country is the written or unwritten document of higher law and the basic principles. It cannot be changed by the ordinary legislative act. It declares and defines the boundaries of the political state. A constitution is a set of fundamental rules that determine how to run a country.
The fundamental concepts of constitutionalism and a constitution came from the ancient Greeks, particularly Aristotle, whose systematic, theoretical, normative, and descriptive writings. In his Politics, Nicomachean Ethics, Constitution of Athens, and other works, Aristotle used the Greek word for the constitution (politeia) in several different senses.
The Constitution of Nepal states that
(1) This Constitution is the fundamental law of Nepal. Any law inconsistent with this Constitution shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.
(2) It shall be the duty of every person to uphold this Constitution.
History of Constitution in Nepal
In the last 68 years, Nepal experienced 7 different constitutions at different time periods. New Constitutions were enacted in 1948 AD (2004 BS), 1951 AD (2007 BS), 1959 AD (2015 BS), 1962 AD (2019 BS), 1990 AD (2047 BS) , 2007 (2063 BS), and 2015 AD (2072 BS).
GOVERNMENT OF NEPAL ACT 1948 (Nepal Sarakarko Baidhanik Kanun 2004 BS)
This is the first written constitution of Nepal which was never implemented. In 2004 BS, the Government of Nepal Act was enacted. It has been said that “This Act shall come into force on Baisakh 1, 2005 BS” but Nepal never saw it. This constitution was declared on 26 January 1948 AD (Magh 13, 2004 BS) by PM Padma Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana.
Although Nepal had been a monarchy the Prime Ministers belonging to the Rana clan had extensive authority over the operations of the state. The first Constitution laid out was the framework of a parliamentary system with a bicameral legislative body but the entire membership of one house and a majority of the other were selected by the prime minister only. They self-vested the power to reject any measure that the legislature might pass. The constitution included Single citizenship, People’s participation, a Preamble, a Unitary form of Government, The process of the Panchayat System (Local-Self Government), Provision for fundamental Rights, Provision for the Judiciary, Provision for the Emergency Power, Provision for the Public Service Commission, Provision to Organize the Constitutional Organization/ commission, Provision to establish the Accountant General.
It consisted of 6 parts, 68 articles, and 1 schedule.
Nepal Interim Government Act 1951 (Nepalko Antarim Shashan Bidhan 2007 BS)
It was the end of the Rana rule. This Constitution came into existence after the successful revolution of 2007 BS with an agreement which is known as the Delhi Agreement. It is an important constitution for Nepal’s history because before this no constitutions were implemented or introduced to administer to maintain the laws and order in the country.
The Delhi agreement stated that “Now after Nepal will be ruled with the help of a constitution which was selected by the people’s community to form the constitution and which will be a Republican one in nature.”
This constitution was declared by the then King Tribhuvan on 11 April 1951 AD (Chaitra 19, 2007 BS) and was in the existence until 30 June 1959 AD (Asadh 16, 2016 BS). This constitution strengthened the authority of the king, introduced the Supreme Court, and included fundamental rights and socio-economic goals to be pursued by the state.
It consisted of 7 parts, 73 articles, and 1 schedule.
The Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1959 (Nepal Adhirajyako Sambidhan, 2015 BS)
The Delhi Agreement was committed to forming a constitution having the nature of a republican one to rule over the state. But due to the various internal factors – conflict among the political parties about the authorities of the state and other miss concepts did not fulfill their own commitment. The major ruling party Nepali congress couldn’t coordinate within the party. The election for the formation of the constitution was never held.
On 16 March 1958 AD (Chaitra 3, 2014 BS) King Mahendra formed a commission under the chairmanship of Bhagawati Prashad Singh with the other member of the committee – Surya Prashad Upadhya, Ranadhir Subba, Hari Prashad Joshi. Sir Ivor Jennings, an expert on the constitution of Cambridge University of the UK was invited to draft the constitution.
This constitution was declared on 12 February 1959 AD (Falgun 15, 2015 BS) This constitution concludes Nepal as a Democratic state but stole all people’s political power gained in the 2007 BS revolution by stating that the political powers should be exercised only by the king, not by the people. It had a bicameral parliament but the king continued to hold important powers such as the prerogative to appoint half of the members of the Senate and also the suspension of parliament under certain circumstances. This constitution declared Nepal as the Hindu Nation for the first time in Nepal and Nepali as the National Language of Nepal.
It consisted of 10 parts, 77 articles, and 3 schedules.
Constitution of Nepal 1962 (Nepal ko Sambidhan, 2019 BS)
The fourth constitution was declared and enacted by King Mahendra on 16 December 1962 AD (Poush 1, 2019 BS). Due to the differences within the political parties, King Mahendra took over the system or the leadership of the government in his own hand on 15 December 1960 AD (Poush 1, 2017 BS) and reform a cabinet for his support. It eliminated the political parties and introduce the Panchayat (councils organized at the local level) system to ensure the representation of the citizens. The king exercised much stronger power and authority than in the 1959 BS regime. He could modify the constitution or suspend it in case of an emergency.
The constitution of Nepal Act 2019 BS organized a public service commission. According to Article 13, of this constitution, the people had an opportunity to get a government job. This constitution established the executive power, the sovereign power was given to the king. This constitution was in the existence nearly for more than 25 years.
It consisted of 20 parts, 97 articles, and 6 schedules.
Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal, 1990 (Nepal Adhirajyako Sambidhan, 2047 BS)
The first Jana Andolan in 1990, brought multi-party democracy back to the country. The revolt pressurized King Birendra to take up a new constitution and switched to the constitutional monarchy. As a result, this constitution was declared on 9 November 1990 AD (Kartik 23 2047 BS) by King Birendra Shah. It uprooted the sole power of the King and formed a multiparty parliamentary system of government. Compared to the Panchayat Regime, the 1990 BS constitution significantly improved the democratic character of the state. The Law declared that all citizens are equal and there will be no discrimination based on religion, race, sex, caste, tribe, or ideology. This constitution includes several guidelines for issues of foreign policy, as well as political, economic, and social development.
This Constitution consisted of 23 parts, 133 articles, and 3 schedules.
Nepal Interim Constitution, 2007 (Nepal ko Antarim Sambidhan, 2063 BS)
Once more in response to the 2007 AD democracy movement in Nepal, the Interim Constitution was enacted that year. It is the result of the successful People’s Movement (2nd) 2007 (2062/63 BS). This constitution was promulgated by the reconstituted House of Representatives on 15 January 2007 AD (Magh 1, 2063 BS). It ended the 204-year-old monarchy and instituted a President as the Head of State.
This Constitution was amended 12 times. For the first time in Nepal Sovereignty and state power was vested in the Nepali People and also the provision of a proportional electoral system. This arranged four types of citizenship including descent, birth, and honorary citizenship, it had managed 21 fundamental rights. Constituent Assembly had 601 members; Of these, 240 are directly elected, 335 were members under the proportional representation system and 26 were nominated by the Council of Ministers.
It consisted of 25 parts, 167 articles, and 4 schedules.
The Constitution Of Nepal (Nepalko Sambidhan)
It is the latest and 7th Constitution of Nepal. The constitution of Nepal was formulated by the Constituent Assembly after a long discussion, and effort and implemented on 19 September 2015 AD (Asojh 3, 2072 BS). It declared the Federal Democratic Republic system, which states that the president sits as the head of state. It has established Nepal as a secular country. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been formally acknowledged by this constitution. It states that everyone is equal before the law. It states that nobody should be sacrificed for the legal system’s protection, and nobody will suffer punishment for a crime that is not punishable by the law.
It also made the provision three tiers of courts; Supreme Court, High Court, and District Court. This constitution states that no one will be discriminated against in accordance with their caste, culture, class, lingual, gender, or religion. It restructured the state and division of State Power.
It consisted of 35 parts, 308 Articles, and 9 Schedules.
Therefore, Nepal celebrates its “Constitution day” on the 19th of September every year to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the 2015 Constitution of Nepal that officially consolidated the country’s transition from a constitutional monarchy to a federal republic.
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