Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Religion Provisions of the Constitution of Nepal

One of my current research projects involves analysis of the religion provisions of various constitutions enacted since the year 2000. From time to time on this blog, I'll post extracts of those provisions arranged according to categories such as "Religious Freedom" (guarantee of individual rights), "Established Religion" (joining religion and government), "Establishment Clause" (separating religion and government), "Ceremonial Deism" (symbolic references to religion that have little or no legal effect), "Equal Protection of Religion" (non-discrimination guarantees), "Preamble", "Religious Education", and "Religious Limitations."
The Constitution of Nepal contains what I call a "weak" establishment clause in that it describes the country as secular.  It contains a standard equal protection clause.

The religious freedom guarantee is watered down by several caveats:

(1) That the right applies only to "his or her own religion as handed down to him or her from ancient times".  This presumably means that recent converts and new faiths in the country will not be protected;

(2)  There is no right to convert someone to another faith;

(3) The right doesn't apply to actions "which may infringe upon the religion of others."  Such a vague term likely empties the religious freedom guarantee of meaning.

Note: the provisions of the Nepal Constitution below are current only as of 2008.


Establishment Clause (weak)

4(1) Nepal is an independent, indivisible, sovereign, secular, inclusive *Federal Democratic Republican State.”

Equal Protection of Religion

13(2)  There shall be no discrimination against any citizen in the application of general laws on grounds of religion, race, gender, caste, tribe, origin, language or ideological conviction or any of these.

Religious Freedom

23  (1) Every person shall have the right to profess, practise and preserve his or her own religion as handed down to him or her from ancient times paying due regard to social and cultural traditions.
Provided that no person shall be entitled to convert another person from one religion to another, and no person shall act or behave in a manner which may infringe upon the religion of others.
     (2) Every religious denomination shall have the right to maintain its independent existence, and for this purpose to manage and protect its religious places and religious trusts, in accordance with law.

Ceremonial Deisms

Schedule 1-A  The oath of office and secrecy to be taken by the President and the Vice-president
I(President’s/Vice president’s full name)…………………….., being fully committed to the
people and country solemnly promise/swear before God and hereby take the oath of offices of
the (President/Vice President.

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