Is our constitutional structure equipped to establish bodies to address our current problems?
The government should not remain silent in this matter by leaving it up to the judiciary. Rather, should find a solution to this problem through political means, by hearing the grievances of all disputing groups.
Moreover, it is natural to protest and make your voices heard, but the movements concerning this issue must not be drawn out to the degree that it affects the people’s right to justice. That is not correct.
If the government gets involved, doesn’t it mean that the executive and the legislature are interfering in matters of the judiciary?
It is not to say that the government should direct the judiciary on what to do and what not to do, and should not be taken to mean as a call against the separation of powers. Rather, the government must facilitate the judiciary in the administration of justice. This is similar to how the executive assigns the budget to the court, and how laws implemented by the judiciary are passed by the parliament.
As it is, this became a matter of political concern as soon as the problem could not be contained within the judiciary, and the fights and disagreements spilled out into the streets.
Many have compared the current state of Nepal’s judiciary to that of post-panchayat Nepal in 1990. Was the judiciary in a better position then than it is now?
The circumstances surrounding Nepal’s courts then and now are incomparable. Nepal’s judiciary only became independent after 1990, following which judges were appointed through a democratic system. Before that, judges used to be assigned for having joined a political party, or simply for holding and voicing opinions about the need for democracy.
Was that a good arrangement? Certainly not. Barring some decisions in the favour of the people and the media, court decisions largely discriminated against the citizens and deprived them of their rights.
Other aspects of Nepali society have been cited as being better before than it is now.
As I said, comparisons do not help. Nepal in the past did not have inclusion, in the human, political, and civil rights and liberties spheres. And while this is not to say that the past was without any progress, it is inaccurate to say that Nepal was more just or democratic in the past.
The people could neither form governments nor change them if they were dissatisfied. In fact, they were not people at all, but subjects. As far as the courts were concerned, judicial decisions were heavily influenced by forces outside the judiciary. As it was, people were able to demand to be heard and were ultimately successful in establishing democracy in 1990. Following the king’s refusal to be a subordinate to his people, Nepal became a republic.
What is your response to those who ascribe the current problems within Nepal to republicanism, secularism and federalism?
The reasons for problems in Nepal at present are not due to the Constitution–although the Constitution should be amended in time–but due to a failure to implement its provisions. Societal instability is not due to republicanism or inclusion, but due to the inability to bring those concepts into practice. The flaw lies not in democracy, but in the fact that we do not have a functioning democratic process. The multi-party system is not responsible, but factions operating within individual political parties are.
The problem is not the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. The problem is that we have not yet been able to bring into practice what the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal symbolises.
So republicanism or secularism are not directly threatened?
Everyone has the freedom to voice different views in a democratic society, and we have come a long way to achieve this. When people are dissatisfied with the democratic process, they can express that through the polls. What is in the past will remain there, be it the Rana regime, the Panchayat, or the monarchy. The only way to move is forward.
Does it seem like Nepal’s major political parties have been stingy in taking ownership of the federal democratic republic?
Nepal’s history from a monarchy to a federal democratic republic is the result of significant transitions. We have been headed in a positive direction, and things are not worse than they were before. For instance, it is not to say that corruption has increased, rather the awareness of corruption and the need to hold those corrupt to account has increased. Similarly, we are at a point where we can openly speak out against discrimination and mistreatment of communities.
There is no need to be discouraged by the momentum of Nepal’s socio-political progress. However, even though Nepal is a multi-party democracy, the responsibility of preserving the democratic process and strengthening the republic lies primarily with the Nepali Congress and the UML. Nepalis are soon going to make their voices heard through the polls, and how they fare in the upcoming elections will determine the future of the country.