In modern political science, a constitution lies at the heart of a nation, giving it energy, opportunity and most importantly, life. Nepal has come a long way from an era of absolute monarchy to a Federal Democratic Republic nation. Our seven constitutions teach us important lessons and as we move towards a new system, these can act as our guiding force.

Type of Government Year Salient Features Description
1948 The first constitution of Nepal titled ‘Government of Nepal Act, 1948 was effective from 1 April 1948. The constitution had 68 articles.
1951 After the Government of Nepal Act, an interim constitution was established which restored the power to the king. This constitution was called the Interim Government of Nepal Act. The then king, Tribhuvan Bir Bikram Shah promulgated the constitution.
Absolute Monarchy 1959 Multi-party Constitution Adapted Parliamentary elections were conducted by king Mahendra Bir Bikram Shah. He established another constitution just before the elections.
1960 King Mahendra seizes control and suspends parliament, constitution and party politics after Nepali Congress Party (NCP) wins elections with B. P. Koirala as premier.
1962 New constitution provides for non-party system of councils known as “panchayat” under which king exercises sole power. King Mahendra established the Panchayat Constitution which had the provision of forming local assemblies. However, the king had the sole power in this system. Democracy was limited and no one could form political parties.
Multi-party politics 1980 Constitutional referendum follows agitation for reform.
1990 King Birendra eventually bows to pressure and agrees to new democratic constitution. A revolt in 1990 pressurized Birendra Bir Bikram Shah to take up a new constitution and switch to constitutional monarchy.  Now, the king didn’t have the sole power like before. A multiparty system with parliamentary system of government was formed.
2007 The interim constitution which was adopted on January 15, 2007, announced the abolition of monarchy. It was implemented only on May 27 2008, after the first meeting of the constituent assembly.
Impasse over constitution 2010 The Constituent Assembly (CA) votes to extend the deadline for drafting the constitution, the first of four extensions.
2012 The Constituent Assembly (CA) is dissolved after failing to produce a draft constitution.
Landmark constitution 2015  Parliament passes a landmark constitution, which defines Nepal as a secular country. The Constitution of Nepal 2072 was endorsed on September 16, 2015 by the Constituent Assembly meeting by more than two-thirds majority. It states Nepal as a federal democratic republican nation. The executive rights of the country are stated to be belonged to the Council of Ministers while the President would be ceremonial head-of-the-state.
2016 Government lifts fuel rationing after the ethnic minority Madhesi communities, partially backed by India, end a six-month border blockade in protest over the new constitution which they say is discriminatory.

Sujan Regmi

Sujan Regmi is a researcher at Samriddhi Foundation.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.