‘Draft biased against marginalised’

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Jul 21, 2015-

Commenting on the preliminary draft of the constitution, Dalit and Madhesi rights activists have said that the draft does not give any space to the marginalised while its “regressive” provisions have prolonged their struggle for rights.

In a programme jointly organised by Nepal Policy Centre and Martin Chautari on Tuesday, UCPN (Maoist) lawmaker Bishwo Bhakta Dulal and Executive Director of Nepal Madhesh Foundation Tula Narayan Shah condemned several provisions in the draft and questioned its ability to uplift the marginalised and protect their identity.

Lawmaker Dulal particularly objected to the provisions in article 45 of the draft constitution which state the rights of Dalits. Despite guaranteeing right to free education, healthcare, social security, land and housing for Dalits, Dulal said that the draft defers actual implementation till appropriate laws are formulated by the State, arguing that a constitution should be the basis of formulating further laws and not the other way around.

Dulal also expressed his reservation over the deletion of the provision of affirmative action in favour of the marginalised in electoral representation.

He blamed the constitution drafting committee of bypassing the Constituent Assembly (CA) which had already settled the issue.

Shah criticised the way the CA handled the issues of federalism, electoral system and citizenship.

He added that suspending the delineation of federal provinces for the time being leaves the issue born out of Madhes Aandolan to uncertainty while he also objected to the reduction of proportional representation in the legislative.

The most regressive point in the draft is that on citizenship which requires both parents of a person to be Nepali citizens for acquiring a citizenship by descent, Shah said.

He went on to say that it is very common among Madhesis to marry Indian citizens and due to this provision their children are only eligible for naturalised citizenship, effectively disqualifying them to hold public positions.

As the CA is busy collecting and recording public opinions on the preliminary draft of the constitution, lawmaker Dulal termed it as “sham” while Shah condemned the government of suppressing voices raised by Madhesis.

Published: 23-07-2015 08:17

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