Government of Nepal Act 2004

Prologue to the Government of Nepal Act 2004

Government of Nepal Act 2004 was the First Constitution of Nepal announced by Prime Minister Shree Teen Maharaja Padma Shumsher in 2004 A.D. It was the First Written and Codified Constitution of Nepal and consisted of 6 Parts, 68 Articles, and 1 Schedule.

It was brought after the Biratnagar Jute Mill Strike and Nationwide demand for Political and Constitutional Reforms.

It was the first Initiative of the Rana Regime to bring Democratic Changes within Nepal. However, it was never promulgated and implemented and soon Mohan Shumsher abstained from implementing the Government of Nepal Act, 2004.

Its Impetus and Rationale

The Government of Nepal Act 2004 was formulated and nearly implemented in Nepal because of the below-listed Social, Economic, Educational, and Political Causes.

Socio-Economic Cause

The Social Hierarchy of Nepal was discriminatory and unequal. A Great Caste-based Divide existed in the Nepali Society. Also, the Ranas themselves were divided into various Classes based on the wife out of which they were born.

Because of such Inequality, the People and the Parties started to express their anti-ana sentiments.

Economically, the standard Nepali Population was backward. After World War I and II, they began to realize the Economic Developments around the World. It established some form of consciousness among the People.

Educational Causes

The Rana Regime has prioritized the Policy of Limitation of Education to specific families and the Ranas only. It resulted in the development of illiteracy and a lack of awareness.

However, the importance and Need of education in Nepal was continuously recognized throughout. Individuals like Devi Prasad Sapkota, Dharani Dhar Koirala, and Siddhi Charan Shrestha started to publish Books, Newspapers, and other educational materials.

However, the Political Parties started to promote the need for Education, and Educated People started to revolt against the Ranas which forced the Rana Regime to initiate Constitutional and Political Reform.

Political Causes

The Major and immediate cause for the Formation of the Government of Nepal Act 2004 is the Biratnagar Jute Mill Strike. It was initiated by the Nepali National Congress under B.P. Koirala and Girija Prasad Koirala. Although B.P. Koirala was arrested and brought to Kathmandu through the Road of Sindhuli.

However, the nationwide protest continued in Nepal. Finally, Padma Shumsher announced that Legal and Constitutional Reforms would be introduced in Nepal after which the Protest ended.

Attributes and Features

The Government of Nepal Act 2004 was a unique blend of both Nepali Traditions and International Practices. Unique Practices like Panchayats were present whereas a Bicameral legislature was also established.

As Nepal didn’t have the experience of the Formation of a Constitution, Constitutional Expert Shree Prakash Gupta was introduced to India. Under him and the discussion with the Ranas, the constitution was completed by 2004 B.S. Magh 13.

However, it was never Promulgated because of his resignation. Mohan Shumsher became the Prime Minister of Nepal but never promulgated the Government of Nepal Act, 2004 in his three-year reign.

The Major Features of the Government of Nepal Act 2004 are:

Role of Succession

Article Three of the Interim Government of Nepal Act 2004 states that the King and Prime Minister will both be continued through the Hierarchy and Role of Succession. The Kings also proclaimed Shree Panch, belonged to the Shah Dynasty, and the Prime Minister, also known as Shree Teen, belonged to the Rana Dynasty. 

The two families had extensively married each other and made this Role of Succession an obvious Priority.

It has been mentioned that both the King and Prime Minister will enjoy Power based on Historical Practices. It ensured that the Prime Minister was the actual de facto Authority and Kings only existed as jure authority. In the matters of Kingship and Succession, it upheld the fundamental norms of Muluki Ain 1910.

De-Facto Rana Regime

The Government of Nepal was divided into Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary in this Act/Constitution. However, all of these Powers relating to Law Making and Law Implementation were vested in the Rana Prime Minister. Rana’s Prime Minister had the authority to overturn Laws.

The Prime Minister could suspend the Act as well as any other laws for a period extending Six Months. In other words, they had the Right To Emergency Power.

Bicameral Legislature

The Interim Government of Nepal 2004 had provisioned for a Bicameral Parliament with an Upper House and a Lower House. The Upper House would consist of 20-30 members who were commonly selected by the Prime Minister without any recommendations.

The Lower House, in this act, would consist of 70 Members. Out of those 70, 42 would be elected. Then, 28 of the remaining Members would be selected by the Prime Minister himself.

Among the 42 Elected Members as well, 32 of them would be District Pradhan Panchas, and 4 would be Metropolitan Pradhan Panchas of major cities of Nepal. Moreover, two were selected from an Educated Class. Then 1 Member each was selected from Business, Birtawal, Feudal Lord, Government Officer, Labor Class, and Aristocrat.

Both the Upper House and Lower House were Permanent in the Interim Government of Nepal Act 2004. Fourth of the members of the House would be removed every year bringing a complete new Parliamentarian within four years.

Fundamental Rights

The Rights provided by the Government of Nepal Act 2004 are as follows:

  1. Personal Freedom
  2. Freedom of Speech and Publication
  3. Right to Assembly
  4. Religious Freedom
  5. Equality before Law
  6. Right to Justice
  7. Free Primary Education
  8. Adult Suffrage and Voting Rights

Pradhan Nyayalaya

Pradhan Nyayalaya was established as the Official Judicial Body of Nepal. However, it wasn’t made an independent organ as it has been established in modern times.

The Interim Government of Nepal Act had provisioned for One Chief Justice as well as twelve Other Judges.

The Chief Justice and Other Judges were appointed by the Prime Minister and could be easily removed by the Prime Minister themselves. In other words, The Prime Minister had absolute control over the decisions of the Judiciary.

Panchayat System

A Unique and Sui-Generis form of Governance was formed in Nepal by the Government of Nepal Act 2004. This act established three tiers in the Panchayat System.

The First was Village or Town which was ruled by Local Panchas. Then, the District was governed by District Panchas and finally, the Lower House which included the District Panchas and other experts.

Its Appraisal and Corollary

The Government of Nepal Act 2004 was never implemented in Nepal because of which its Practical Analysis is impossible. However, the Provisions themselves can be analyzed:

Absolutism

The Absolute Authority has been vested in the Rana Prime Minister. The Constitution, which is generally promulgated to Promote the Rule of Law and prevent absolutism, itself promoted Absolutism in this case.

All the Provisions that could prevent the Sovereign Rights of the Prime Minister have been complimented with Exceptions, allowing the Ranas to bypass the Provision.

Legal Protection of Rana Regime

Constitutional Experts have stated that the Interim Government of Nepal Act 2004 was established to ensure that the Rana Regime was legally protected.

Although the sons of Chandra Shumsher detested the Act, it wasn’t yet Democratic, and absolute sovereignty persisted through the Constitutional Provisions.

Political Freedom

Despite the weaknesses of the Interim Government of Nepal Act 2004, it nonetheless promoted Political Freedom including Freedom of Speech, Personal Freedom, Freedom to Assembly, and much more.

Such Provisions existed as the Ranas had promised Legal and Constitutional Reforms in Nepal.

Unique Administrative System

This Constitution of Nepal, in many concepts and principles, is similar to the Constitution of Nepal, 2019. A Unique Panchayati Administrative System existed in Nepal that developed extensively over Years of Practice in the Rana Regime.

Later, Mahendra also introduced the Party-less Panchayat System in Nepal which persisted for thirty years.

Epilogue

The Interim Government of Nepal Act 2004 is an important milestone in the Constitutional History of Nepal. It was written and codified but failed to be implemented in Nepal. The upcoming Constitutions, the Interim Government of Nepal Act 2007, and the Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal 2015 were implemented but failed.

It also marked the attempts of the Rana Regime to legalize their Power and also integrate democratic practices such as Fundamental Rights within Nepal.

Cite

FAQs

What is the Government of Nepal Act 2004?

Government of Nepal Act 2004, often considered the First Constitution of Nepal, was a legal document proposed by Padma Shumsher to bring Legal and Political Reforms. It was not promulgated.

What are the Features of the Government of Nepal Act 2004?

The Government of Nepal Act 2004 proposed a Bicameral Legislature with the supremacy of the Rana Regime, Fundamental Rights, and a unique Panchayat form of Governance.

When was the Government of Nepal Act 2004 BS promulgated?

The Government of Nepal Act 2004 was never promulgated because Padma Shumsher was overtaken as the Rana Prime Minister by Mohan Shumsher.

What act was passed in 2004?

According to the Nepal Law Commission, the Army Act was passed in 2004 B.S. The Government of Nepal Act 2004 was never promulgated and passed in Nepal.