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Three at a time

Monday, April 23rd, 2012
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The final negotiations on constitution drafting between the three major parties and Madhesi front continued for the second day. In the first session today, parties discussed five contentious issues and reached a deal on constitutional court, electoral system and citizenship.

A crucial deal on constitutional court has ended with disputes over its formation. The NC and UML had been insisting on a constitutional bench within the Supreme Court but the parties have now agreed to form an independent body for a period of 5 years. This is a good move, because a new constitution will throw open plenty of debate over its interpretation and arrangements. So a separate court with clear jurisdiction to look into these will contribute towards institutionalising the constitution. But the parties must ensure that there are no overlapping jurisdictions which may lead to disputes between constitutional bodies.

Currently, Supreme Court is the apex body with authority to define and interpret laws and it will be interesting to see how the parties manage to transfer this jurisdiction to a new body without upsetting senior judges.

On citizenship, the parties have agreed to continue the existing system of granting naturalised citizenship in the name of both mother and father. Similarly, a deal has been reached on a mixed electoral system but the proportion of  direct and proportional representation seats is yet to be finalised.

The parties are meeting again this evening to continue their discussion and there is a possibility of further agreements . Meanwhile, the Constitutional Committee has agreed to call off CA meeting scheduled for today after the parties requested three more days to sort out differences. The additional time granted to the parties by the constitutional committee would have expired today and the unresolved issues voted upon during the next CA meeting.

Anurag Acharya

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