KATHMANDU, May 13: Indigenous communities have lauded the Supreme Court´s (SC) recent order on filling the 26 vacant CA seats with representatives of indigenous communities that have not been represented in the CA.
They have expressed hope that the implementation of the decision would make the new Constituent Assembly (CA) to be more inclusive.
Of the total CA seats, 575 have already been filled, with only 23 of the total 59 scheduled indigenous communities represented at present.
Nagendra Kumal, president of Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (NEFIN), said, “Finally, the SC has come up with the order that makes it mandatory for the political parties and government to nominate indigenous communities´ representatives in the available 26 seats. Though the order is praiseworthy, we still have to wait to see if the political parties will actually implement the verdict.”
There are total 184 members from indigenous communities in the CA, according to NEFIN.
Earlier, NEFIN had demanded 37 percent seats in the CA based on the population of the indigenous people. “We pushed for the implementation of past agreements on adequate representation of the indigenous people in state mechanisms. But our voices were neglected,” he said.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday had issued a mandamus to the government to appoint the remaining 26 lawmakers in line with Article 63 (3) (C) of the Interim Constitution and to do so within 15 days.
Though the apex court has ordered that the new appointments should not be made on the basis of political sharing among the political parties, the members of indigenous communities are still suspicious of the government and political parties.
Dr Om Gurung, indigenous rights activists, said, “Despite the SC´s verdict in favor of the indigenous communities, there is no guarantee that the political parties and government will not betray us.”
Even if the government or political parties pick lawmakers from indigenous communities, they will select people who are near and dear to them, he said. "In my opinion, members from highly-marginalized communities who have not been represented at any policy-making level should be included in the 26-seats, he stressed.
Indigenous communities yet to be represented in the CA are Kumal, Bhote, Danuwar, Palung, Topchhegola, Byashi, Larke, Shiyar, Lepcha, Thami, Jirel, Surel, Hayu, Urau, Gangai, Meche, Kishan, Kusunda, Raute, Barhagaunle, Raaji, Sinsha, Chepang, Dhimal, Tajpuriya, Kushwadiya, Dura, Baram, Mugaal, Bote, Bankariya, Walung, Pahari, Dolpo, Firi, and Chairotan.
Indigenous community members and rights activists claimed that the CA would be incomplete without the participation of these communities.
The SC verdict came in response to a public interest litigation filed by Dalit Janajati Party Chairman and lawmaker Bishwendra Paswan.
As per the order, the twenty-six lawmakers are to be nominated by the Council of Ministers from among the prominent persons who have made outstanding contributions to national life and indigenous people.
Published on 2014-05-13 22:44:04