Friday, April 08, 2005

Shortcut To A New Constitution, Shortcut To Peace

...... this is work in progress .... please provide feeback and circulate.......

(The Monarchists will not go for UN mediation, and they will not go for a Constituent Assembly. I think I have a proposal that meets their demands. But for that I need the Maoists and the democrats to come along. The Maoists need to unilaterally declare ceasefire, and make the decision very public. Such that, if the army continues with its excesses, the king and the army top brass stand getting sent over to the International Criminal Court by the democratic all-party government once it takes over power, so they can go hobnob with Milosevic. For their part, the democrats need to get behind this proposed constitution and should agitate in a massive way to form an all-party, interim government. That government, within two months of taking power, will subject this constitution to a referendum after having successfully disarmed the Maoists in a respectful way. With a majority vote, the constitution becomes the law of the land. This is an attempt at a framework on my part, not a final draft.)

Nepal is a federal republic, a total, transparent democracy, with the sovereignty resting firmly with the Nepali people.

Article 1: The Legislative Branch

There is to be a lower house, the Pratinidhi Sabha, with 205 members, and a upper house, the Rajya Sabha, with 50 members, all of whom are to be directly elected through constituencies demarcated such that the largest has a population not more than 5% of the smallest, geographically in close approximation to a circle or a square, and protected from partisan gerrymandering by an autonomous Election Commission. The constituencies need not respect district boundaries.

All matters of national importance are to be decided by the national parliament through a majority vote, unless otherwise stated. Parliamentary procedures are to be laid out or revised with a 60% vote margin.

The legislatures are to elect their Speakers and Deputy Speakers. The legislatures shall assemble at least once every four months, and as often as necessary. No parliamentarian may be arrested while the parliament might be in session except for felony charges. Their speech in parliament is protected from any and all oversight, legal and otherwise.

A simple majority of the parliament will pass the budget. All budget proposals must originate in the Pratinidhi Sabha. All bills must be posted online in three languages - Nepali, Hindi and English - for at least one week before they may be voted upon.

All regional and international treaties that Nepal might enter into will have to pass a 60% majority in the parliament.

Political parties may not engage in fund-raising activities. Instead each national party, described as those that garnered at least 5% of the votes in the previous nationwide elections, will get an annual sum that will be directly proportional to the number of votes they earned. That money is to be used for party-building and electioneering activities. Details of expenses are to be posted online to the last paisa on at least an annual basis.

Every person on the state's payroll - elected officials, bureaucrats, justices, police, army personnel - is to submit a statement of their personal property, to be posted online and archived and updated annually.

Details of all expenses incurred by the state, to the last paisa, are to be posted online. All contracts offered by the state to the private sector are to be bid for in a similar transparent manner from beginning to the end. All job applications and promotions in the public sector are to be similarly handled in a transparent manner.

All formal political deliberations at all levels of government are to be posted online in as real time as possible in the language that was used at the venue. Efforts are to be made to make the same available in Nepali, Hindi and English. All votes are to be similarly made public.

Every elected official at all levels of government is to get a decent monthly salary.

Anyone above the age of 16 is a legible voter. Members of the Pratinidhi Sabha will have to be at least 23 years of age, and that of the Rajya Sabha at least 25 years of age. All elected officials are to have been citizens. Their terms shall last four and six years respectively.

Only the Pratinidhi Sabha may conduct acts of impeachment by a vote of 65%. This constitution can be amended by the same vote margin.

In case of a tie in the Rajya Sabha, the Prime Minister or his designate gets to break the tie.

The parliamentarians may not increase their salaries in a way that might affect the members of the existing class. The same applies to the salaries of members of the cabinet.

Article 2: The Executive Branch

The legislative party leader of the majority party in the Pratinidhi Sabha becomes Prime Minister. The Prime Minister may elect members to the Cabinet that might or might not be members of the parliament.

When a majority might be lacking, the largest pre-poll alliance, or the largest single party, whichever might be larger, gets invited to form the government, and is given 30 days to prove their majority.

The Prime Minister makes nominations to the judiciary and other constitutional bodies like the Election Commission (EC) and the Commission to Control Corruption (CCC) to be confirmed by a 60% vote in the Pratinidhi Sabha. The commissioners serve 6-year terms.

The army, to be called the Nepal Army, is not to be larger than 0.1% of the national population and is to be downsized accordingly within 5 years of this constitution getting promulgated. The Prime Minister is the Commander-In-Chief of the army.

All appointments made by the Prime Minster, except for his or her personal staff, will need a majority vote in the parliament for confirmation.

Article 3: The Judiciary Branch

The judiciary will reflect the composition of the government, from village/town to district, to state to the national level. Towns and cities with more than 30,000 people will be served with more than one court, the number to be decided through a formula by the state government. There will be a layer between the district and the state levels, the Appeals Court, 10 per state. The system is to be peopled like the civil service, on merit.

The Prime Minister makes nominations to the national Supreme Court. The Chief Minister makes nominations to the State Supreme Court. Both are subject to their respective parliaments for 60% of the vote. Justices to the Supreme Court are to serve to the age of 75 or upto their voluntary retirement.

The state and national Supreme Courts interpret the constitutionality of laws passed by the parliaments when thus challenged, but such interpretations may be overturned by the parliaments through a 65% vote.

The parliament, federal or state, may not diminish the salary of a sitting judge.

Article 4: The States

The current "zones" and "development regions" are to be abolished, but the "districts" are to be retained. The country is to be divided into three states, roughly of equal population, Eastern, Central, and Western, to be called Purbanchal, Madhyamanchal, and Paschimanchal, that are to include all three geographical regions, Terai, Pahad and Himal. Each state is to have a Pratinidhi Sabha, 101 membes, and a Rajya Sabha, 20 members.

The districts will have their own governments, forming a third layer, named Zillapalika. The village units are to be called Grampalika and the town and city units are to be called Nagarpalika, and will form the fourth layer of government. District, town and village elected officials are to be at least 21 years of age.

The federal government will directly transfer 10% of its annual budget to the 25 poorest districts. This does not prevent further federal expenditures on those districts.

The income tax structure is to be as follows: 50% federal, 30% state, 10% district, and 10% village/town/city. The income tax is to be collected by the federal government, and funds transferred by the same to the other levels of government as per this formula.

The education system shall follow a tri-lingual policy up to Class 10, beyond which it is for each individual institution to decide on their own as to the language of instruction. The first language is to be the student's first language, the second language is to be Nepali. For those for whom Nepali might be their first language, the student may choose any language spoken in Nepal. The third language is to be English, the contemporary language of science and commerce. This policy applies to schools in both the private and the public sectors. The language of instruction for all other subjects to Class 10 will be a decision to be made by the schools.

Article 5: The President

Every elected official in the country is to vote for a President who is to serve a five-year term and is to be the guardian of the constitution. The President will appoint a Governor to each of the three states. A block of at least 30% of the national parliament may make nominations for the candidacy. When there are more than two candidates, the one who gets the most votes wins.
The parliament, federal or state, may not diminish the salary of a sitting president or governor.

Article 6: The Individual

The individual is the most important element of the state and is to be protected and celebrated. Every person has a birth right to freedom of speech, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of religion, a right to a speedy, public trial, and a right to privacy, a protection from unreasonable searches and seizures. No person may be tried and punished for the same crime twice. No person will be compelled to testify against themselves. No person will be deprived of life, liberty or propety without due process of law. Private property may not be taken for public use without due compensation. Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Every person is equal under the law. Any law that might conflict with that fundamental premise will become null and void as soon as this constitution takes effect.

No person shall be taxed more than 40% of their income by all levels of government put together. Those in the bottom 40% income brackets are not to pay any direct taxes. And people in lower income brackets should not end up paying a larger net amount in taxes than those in higher income brackets. That might not apply to entrepreneurs seeking tax write-offs.

The autonomous Election Commission is to decide on a Saturday of a pre-monsoon month for Election Day, only one per year. All elections at all levels will have to be held on that day. No citizen of age may be barred from voting for whatever reason.

It is a stated goal of the state to make possible lifelong education for every person in the country through creative partnerships between the private and public sectors. The state shall also attempt to provide universal access to secondary education and primary health care free of cost to all.

The state shall attempt to provide universal access to micro-credit to all in the bottom 40% income brackets. All persons that might enter into agreements, either in the private or the public sector, to access credit will have the option to declare bankruptcy as a last resort. Money owed by an individual, as opposed to by a business or a corporation, may not be passed on to the next generation. Indentured servitude is an illegal form of collecting money owed by an individual or family. Any person lending money the total of which is larger than Rs 20,000, to be indexed to inflation, is to register as a small business owner, and will be subject to taxation and regulation.

All educational institutions, public and private, must have at least 10% of its students on need-based full scholarships.

Employees of the state in the education and health sectors will be paid salaries that are at least 10% larger than to those with similar qualifications serving in other fields.

An accurate, scientific census is to be conducted every 10 years, and scientific projections are to be made for the intervening years.

Article 7: Capitals

Within 10 years of this constitution getting promulgated, the national capital is to be shifted from Kathmandu to Chitwan valley which will also serve as the capital of Madhyamanchal. Udaypur valley will serve as the capital of Purbanchal, and Surkhet valley will serve as the capital for Paschimanchal.


Anonymous said...

And why do you think the most powerful person in Nepal (at the present context: the King) would agree to this?
The provision for Presidency is not required. With a core change in the constitution, thus revoking any potential whip that the King can issue in the future, we can still have the King in the picture and declare true democracy; w/o allowing the King to do whatever he wants to/whenver he wants.

Anonymous said...

The Shah dynasty had 250 years to get their act together. They failed... they failed miserably... no reason to have them around... send them to Rome where all these good for nothing monarchs seem to go....

We need ferderalism and we need it NOW!

Anonymous said...

This time, this is real Jan-Andolan. I have seen and participated in 2036, 042 & 046 movements.I heard about 2007. None of those movements were so much wide spread & intensive. Freedom is the first and only core value of Democracy. Now people from every walk of life realise this. King's puppets called Regional & Zonal administrators started to grab community forest user's property, the jungle. Then Forest User's Groups understood the INTENTION of the king very clearly. And now 2.8 million population under this users'group is agitating most strongly. Same happened with many other such groups and alliances.The King has to go and Monarchy has to go. He cannot, like Sinhanuk of Cambodia hand over his throne to his Crown prince at all. Son is more notorious and rejected.
The only question is whether political parties can ask and order the King to follow their road-map or not. The day our government follows Rule of law even half heartedly, the Monarchy is gone and gone for ever.The day people are allowed to march peacefully, that march will peacefully dismantle every content of Monarchy. When Monarchy is gone, the feudal- mindset- leaders will loose their lender at last resort. And then only all Disadvantaged Groups can assert for their rights.Current Jan-andolan will accomplish first step of revolution i.e.Door-Opening of change. Second and final shall be to utilise that authority to fredom to grab power of the people for justice.