Constitution Amendment Bill of Nepal

The Second Amendment Bill to Nepal Constitution was tabled in the Parliament.

Nepal had witnessed large scale turmoil, including blockade of border points with India by agitating Madeshi parties, seriously affecting normal life in large parts of the country, including capital Kathmandu after the new Constitution was adopted by Constituent Assembly on 20th September 2015.

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The United Democratic Madeshi Front and several other fringe parties and groups having stakes in the region bordering India, called Terai Madesh have been protesting against the demarcation of boundaries of provinces created under the new Constitution. They are also agitated over not providing adequate representation in governance to the Madeshis, Janjatis, Tharus, Minorities and women and not safeguarding citizenship rights as provided for in the interim Constitution.

The present Constitution Amendment Bill seeks to redraw boundaries of two provinces fulfilling the main demand of Madeshi parties regarding Jhapa, Sunsari and Morang districts in East Nepal and Kanchanpur and Kailali districts in Western Nepal.

Some other changes have also been proposed in the Constitution to give better representation in governance to people of Terai region.

According to Article 274(4) of the new Nepal Constitution, when an amendment bill related with the alteration in the borders of any state or its jurisdiction is registered, the Speaker must send that bill to the State Assembly for its consent within thirty days after its introduction in the Federal Parliament. But the main question remains that State Assemblies are yet to be constituted and the

Constituent Assembly is acting as Legislature Parliament for which a provision exists in the Constitution. The election to local level Village Development Committees, State Assemblies and bicameral Federal Parliament are to be completed before 21stJanuary next year.

Some bills relating to these elections are a must for adoption by Legislature Parliament before the three tier elections are held.

Since this is a Constitution Bill, it would require two third majorities in Parliament for passage. The present House has an effective strength of 594 members and the ruling alliance of Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and the Nepali Congress claims to have the support of 324 members, which is short of at least 62 members for the adoption of the Amendment Bill.

The nine party opposition have 201 members on its side, three more than the one third vote required for defeating the bill. The Rashtriya Prajatantra Party and some other Madesh based fringe parties have not opened their cards so far but they appear to be more inclined towards voting with the ruling alliance to adopt the Constitution Amendment bill.