Appreciating the Initiation Process: It is great to hear about the formation of the “The Parliamentary Special Hearing Committee” in the reinstated Nepalese parliament. This initiation was conducted by a public notice requesting the collection information on nominees to be considered as appointees to the position of, “Chief Election Commissioners.”
It is hoped that the directives issued by the PHSC will respect basic democratic norms and principles for government appointments. Procedural and logistical details are essential for appointments to be considered acceptable by basic democratic norms and principles. Room should not be left for appointments to be considered as arbitrary decisions by the Cabinet or Parliament.
The implementation of democratic practices will establish the foundation for democratic electoral procedures as the foundation of our society’s political culture. In the long run, such a political culture will take strides to abolish traditional mindsets and uninformed political processes in the legislative, executive and judiciary bodies of government.
It can be argued that Nepalese have been raised with arbitrary political traditions ingrained in their mindset since the very foundation of the nation state. This argument would imply that our thought processes are conditioned to think along a certain path.
Despite our enhanced political ideologies, education, expertise and knowledge Nepalese manage the government, institutions, and organizations without proper policies and procedures. What provokes Nepalese to knowingly function in ways that encourage the maintenance of the status quo is a poignant question.
Ironically, we Nepalese been very successful on debating and inculcating the idea of Democracy but we have had little success with translating democratic theory into democratic practice.
Fundamentally, this means that enablers that guarantee the sovereignty of the people of Nepal, maintain social justice and establish economic equality and opportunity are yet to be fully implemented. Without such a political culture, a stable and prosperous democratic Nepal will be impossible to realize.
Strides of the Electoral Logistics for the government appointments:
Normally, in developed nations, democratic processes for appointments to government positions (for all three bodies of the state – Legislative, Executive and Judiciary) follow specific procedures including hearings conducted by independent parliamentary commissions.
Typically, the Cabinet nominates candidates and sends requests to the Parliament for the approval.
As per the request of the Cabinet, the Parliament begins procedure by forming a commission to initiate investigations on nominees’ personal profiles. This involves background checks followed by inquiries by members of the parliamentary commission.
Once the fact finding logistics are accomplished then the commission presents its findings to the parliament for purposes of voting. Based on the voting results the parliament then recommends candidates for specific positions.
It is hoped that the Parliamentary Special Hearing Committee in Nepal will adopt similar electoral logistics when considering future appointments. There should be no position-based exceptions.
The establishment of such a political culture will respect the aspirations of Nepalese people and embrace all political ideologies, ethnic orientations, and religions backgrounds.
The Current Notion of the Political Tradition of Arbitration:
Two hundred and fifty years of feudal oligarchic traditions and arbitrary laws have to be recognized and eliminated. Nepal’s political institutions, social customs, civil conventions and individual psyches remain influenced by these factors. The caste system’s penetration into the state’s legal structure can no longer be permitted.
It would be unrealistic to speak of Nepali psyches being freed of such behavior just after the dawn of the democracy (with the mandate of the people’s movement II). No matter how educated (or revolutionary) Nepalis are, no matter what expertise Nepalis have, Nepalis are still conditioned to think a certain way. It will take a good many years of electoral democratic practice to free us from such tempered thinking.
The ruling elites in government still rush to make arbitrary decisions without justification or careful consideration. For example, defense secretary Bishnu Dutt Upreti has referred to OHCHR data on disappearances “groundless” at the Parliamentary Committee. He has done this without providing evidence to support his dismissal.
It seems the so-called legal experts like former attorney general ‘Ratna Tuladhar’ are outright disrespecting amendments to the 1990 constitution by the reinstated Parliament. They are asking the head of the commission to read Article 31 to justify why the king ignored the commission’s questionnaires.
If the king were democratic, one would assume that he would have faith in the inquiry. This is how Democracy works because it is the rule of law and under the law, all are equal.
If the findings of the ‘High-Level Commission’ bring justifications in the current political scenario of Nepal perhaps then we will be able to sow the seed of Democracy to harvest in our near future. Otherwise, the psyches of the arbitrary political tradition will continue with the emperor’s new clothe of the Democracy.
Finale of the Rule of Law:
The only Hope for people of Nepal is Democracy that is nurtured and made to work.
For example, if there traffic law exists that governs moving violations, then there should be a system for issuing tickets that explains all the detail of the law article by article. Also included should be a provision that if the accused is found innocent, he or she is able to purse a appeal process. Most importantly, the ticket should then have a specific revenue account where the fine is paid, if found guilty.
This means under the rule of law a police officer or the government authority cannot fine the citizen with immediate cash on the street without the ticket or receipt to pay the fine to a specific government revenue account or to challenge the ticket, legally.
This is how the civil liberty is guaranteed in democratic societies. This demands great attention of the members of the legislative body of the government. It requires a thorough thought-process that rationalizes the details of the law so that it may function smoothly.
Expert opinions on legal frameworks may be sought but for Nepal, the best choice is the electoral process in the assembly and the Parliament. Only such a process can guarantee thorough discussion, investigation, and finally, voting legislation into active law. Any law that is made without this process will not sow the seed of democracy in Nepal.
(Note from the Nepal Horizons Editorial Team: The views and opinion expressed in this article are that of the author and not of NHC. We request individuals with interest in Nepal to submit their views on contemporary Nepalese issues to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures of contributors or images that relate to submissions are welcome)