Nepal Constitution


Nepal shares its geographical border with India and China is pretty obvious but it also shares its history with these countries. Nepal has always been on the receiving end with both India and China trying to frontier each other’s influence on the country.

The earliest affair in the history of Nepal seems to be the migration of the Mongolian tribe to Nepal over 2800 years ago. The descendants of this tribe still exist in the country and they are the reason why Buddhism was a dominant religion. The second round of migration from India was that of Licchavis and Guptas, which overthrew Buddhism and introduced Hinduism as the official religion.

After the Thakur ruled the region for three centuries, the Malla dynasty began ruling who were tolerant of Buddhism as a religion but were very particular about enforcing caste system. It is with this, that the clash between the two religions got cracking. After Malla’s death, Nepal split into small states and remained like that for centuries.

It was in 1768, that Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the Kathmandu Valley and established the unified state of Nepal. The Shahs continued to rule over Nepal throughout its uproarious years where it lost the war with China over Tibet and had to pay annual homage to China that only ended in 1912. On the other hand, it also lost against Britain and had to surrender most of their parts to British. Finally, Shahs lost to the powerful Ranas in 1846, who were landowners Followed by this was a long tussle between monarchy and democracy.


It was in 1990 that the government drafted and promulgated its Constitution. In May 1991, Nepali Congress won the free and fair election and Girija Prasad Koirala became the first democratically elected Prime Minister. However, the democracy was not effectuated as proficiently as it should have with frequent changes in Prime Ministers.

Maoist rebels killed King Bipendra and family and an emergency was declared as Maoist rebels killed over 100 people in just four days of violence. After 6 years of war and struggle, the Maoists and the government signed a peace accord in 2006.

After a largely unstable government and an interim constitution followed by the mayhem created by the major earthquake in April 2015, the rival parties resolved their stalemate and agreed to form a new constitution after repeated delays due to domestic and international criticisms.

Therefore, on September 20, 2015, Nepal Constitution came into effect. The Constitution was endorsed by 507 Constituent Assembly members out of 598 Constituent Assemble members. 25 members voted against it and 66 members that belonged to the Terai region representing the Madhesis boycotted the final debate as they were fighting for equal representation in the constitution.


The Constitution replaced the 10 years old interim constitution that brought an end to the Nepal Monarchy. However, the protests resulting in death of over 40 protestors is not unavailing. It is because the constitution has left chances for future tussle among religions, as the provision that declares Nepal as a secular country defines secularism as protection of Sanatan religion culture, as well as cultural and religious freedom’

Sanatan is interpreted as Hinduism, so even though there is a provision that declares it to be sovereign, the wordings give a contradictory meaning. This is after decades of struggle by minorities like Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, etc., who have strived to prevent discrimination on the grounds of religion.

Moreover, while there are certain provisions that protect the rights of women and prevent gender discrimination, the citizenship clause is very vaguely worded by using words such as proportional representation and inclusion which are not defined. Also, a child of a single Nepali mother would find it difficult to get Nepali citizenship as the woman has to prove that the father is not a foreigner and if he is a foreigner, then the child is conferred only naturalized citizenship, which is not a right but left to the discretion of the State.

Also, there is nothing that provides on whether the foreign father will be conferred citizenship. However, if it is a foreign woman married to a Nepali man, the citizenship is conferred quite easily to both the child and the wife.

Further, the wordings are vague on whether women shall be included in representing the citizens of the country or their involvement in the judiciary. Also, the much-appreciated agreement between the political parties that either the President or vice-President position shall be provided to a woman is now not guaranteed due to nebulous use of words.

Madhesis Protest:

Madhesis who form 1/3rd of Nepal’s  Constitution had already been protesting over human rights violations ever since the Constitution came into effect. They felt that they were being marginalised and were not given equal political representation. Moreover, Nepal came up with a seven province model which would divide the Madhesis ancestral property. Due to this, Madhesis were protesting non-stop fort four months as they considered this to be a way of marginalising them.

Therefore, a bill was place in the Parliament to amend the Constitution in December, 2015. 24 proposals were made by over 100 law makers to amend the Constitution. The amendment was passed with 2/3rd majority and it focused on two main demands of the Madhesis – proportionate representation to minority community and seat allocation in Parliament on the basis of the population.

However, the Madhesis called it ‘incomplete’ as it did not address its concerns including redrawing of federal boundaries


On a positive note, the Nepali constitution provides protection to its LGBT community with the representatives stating that the LGBT community deserves to live their lives free from discrimination and fear. This could help stimulate the support of other countries towards the LGBT community.

However, a constitution that could have been a powerful answer to the long struggle suffered by the citizens of Nepal, doesn’t seem to have ended the scuffle, with the Constitution guaranteeing equal treatment of all genders but clearly laying down bias between their own sons and daughters.

Nepal celebrated the first year anniversary of its Constitution on September 19, 2016.

Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia

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