SC’s fresh order raises questions on announced poll calendar


KATHMANDU, Oct 26: The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday sought written response from the Election Commission (EC) for the assurance of separate ballot papers for the federal and provincial elections under the first-past-the-post system.

A single bench of Justice Dambar Bahadur Shahi issued a directive in the name of EC asking to furnish a written response regarding progress made to that effect within three days since its earlier ruling on October 18.

Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) Nepal leader Sarbendra Nath Shukla had filed a writ petition at the SC on October 8, demanding separate ballot papers for the House of Representatives and State Assemblies.

The SC on October 18 asked the EC to give due consideration to the issue of printing separate ballot papers seriously as per the legal provisions.

Meanwhile, EC officials said that the apex court’s decision didn’t require halting of the printing work. Shukla, in his petition, argued that it was contempt of the court on part of the EC to not to print separate ballot papers.

Federal and Province Assemblies have separate laws and as per the legal provisions it makes it mandatory to print separate ballot papers.

But the EC has stated that it will be impossible to hold elections on November 26 with separate ballot papers for federal and provincial elections. A committee headed by EC Joint Secretary Dinesh Ghimire submitted its report on October 22 stating that printing two separate ballot papers would affect poll calendar. A meeting of election commissioners and officials of the law department and election department of the EC then held meeting on October 23, which decided to let the full meeting of the poll body to decide on the matter.

The EC on October 25 decided to go ahead with the single ballot paper for federal and provincial polls under FPTP system citing that printing them separately is not possible for now due to managerial and technical reasons.

The EC has nearly completed printing ballot papers for elections under the proportional representation system. The EC is planning to start printing first-past-the-post ballot papers from October 27. But the apex court’s fresh ruling has raised questions over whether the upcoming polls could be conducted on announced date.