The preamble envisages establishment of sustainable peace, good governance, development and prosperity in a federal democratic republic. However, under Article 274, nothing except the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Nepal — with the Nepalese people as the source of that independence — is unalterable or unamendable. A future Parliament may, by a two-thirds majority, change in part or whole, the federal, secular character of the republic.
Sovereignty and state authority; the Nation
The sovereignty and authority of the state are vested in the Nepali people. Having multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religious, multi-cultural characteristics, with common aspirations of people living in diverse geographical regions, and committed to and united by a bond of allegiance to national independence, integrity, national interest and prosperity of Nepal, all the Nepali people collectively constitute the nation.
The state of Nepal
Nepal is an independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular, inclusive, democratic, socialism-oriented, federal, republican state. The constitution clarifies that ‘secularism’ in this context means the preservation of dharma sanskriti (religion and culture) that has been in existence for generations (sanatan), as well as the freedom of religion and culture. The explanation of secularism was introduced in the wake of mass movements against the provision of secularism, and in favour of Nepal continuing to be a Hindu state.
This has been contentious; many in the plains complain they have been denied the right to be citizens. Between 2006 and 2008, some 3 million were granted citizenship, but there were allegations of irregularities.
Under the constitution, no Nepali resident can be denied the right to acquire citizenship, and there shall be a provision for a single federal citizenship with the name of the province to which the citizen belongs.
Almost all top constitutional posts, including that of head of state, are reserved for citizens by descent — one of the provisions that India has objected to as being discriminatory to the many Madhesis who have acquired citizenship by birth or naturalisation.
Right to religious freedom
According to the constitution, each person is free to profess, practise, and preserve his/her religion according to his/her faith, and distance himself/herself from any other religion. However, no person shall act or make others act against public health, decency and morality, or behave or act or make others act to disturb public law and order, or convert a person of one religion to another religion, or disturb the religion of others. The EU and Scandinavian countries had lobbied hard for a right to convert, but the proposal was dropped following widespread protests.
Past treaties shall be reviewed, and new ones signed, on the basis of equality and mutual interest. The ratification of any treaty that has a bearing on Nepal’s peaceful and friendly relations with other countries, security and strategic interests, its boundaries and natural resources, shall need a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The federal executive
Executive powers shall vest in the cabinet. The President shall appoint as its head the leader of the largest party commanding a majority in the House of Representatives.
The federal legislature
It will be bicameral, with a House of Representatives — 165 members of which will be elected by the first past the post system, and 110 by the system of proportional representation — a third of whose members shall be women, and a National assembly of 59 members. Either the chair or deputy chair of these Houses shall have to be women.
The three-tier judiciary will have high courts and district courts below the supreme court. The SC Chief Justice will serve until the age of 65, or for six years, whichever is earlier.
National Security Council
A seven-member council will be headed by the prime minister. The chief of the army will be a member. The decision to include the COAS was taken very late.