SC orders separate ballots for two polls

Oct 26, 2017-The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday ordered the Election Commission (EC) to ensure separate ballot papers for the federal and provincial elections under the first-past-the-post system and present a report on the progress made to that effect since its earlier ruling on October 18.

A single bench of Justice Dambar Bahadur Shahi issued the order in response to a contempt of court writ filed on Tuesday by Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) leader Sarbendra Nath Shukla. 

The bench has also asked Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav to furnish clarification within three days as to why he should not face contempt of court for defying the court’s earlier order. 

Responding to a writ, also filed by Shukla demanding separate FPTP ballot papers for the federal and provincial polls, a division bench of Justices Dipak Raj Joshi and Purushottam Bhandari on October 17 while ruled that “there is no need to issue an interim order”, it simultaneously stated that “the EC will but consider the issue of printing separate ballot papers seriously”.

Shukla had based his contempt of court writ on the latter part of the SC ruling. The RJP-N leader in his petition argued that the chief election commissioner defied the apex court ruling on printing separate ballot papers for the two polls for the direct election system.

The SC’s decision comes three days after nominations for the direct election system for the first phase of federal and provincial systems were filed. The first phase polls are scheduled for November 26. 

The SC’s fresh ruling has raised questions whether the scheduled polls could be conducted on time.

When asked about the apex court ruling, Election Commissioner Sudhir Shah said it will be impossible to hold elections on November 26 with separate ballot papers for federal and provincial elections.

The EC on October 20 had formed a committee headed by EC Joint Secretary Dinesh Ghimire to find what could be done regarding SC ruling.

The committee submitted its report on October 22, stating that printing two separate ballot papers would affect the poll calendar, according to EC officials. 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.

“On October 24, a full meeting of the EC decided to print single ballot paper for federal and provincial polls under FPTP system as printing them separately would have affected the scheduled polls,” said Shah.

The EC, which is close to completing printing ballot papers for elections under the proportional representation system, is planning to start printing FPTP ballot papers from October 27.

 

Sourec: Kathmandu Post