Kathmandu, October 25
The Election Commission today said it could not print separate ballot papers for provincial and parliamentary first-past-the-post elections, as suggested by the Supreme Court.
The EC’s statement comes on the day when the Supreme Court issued an order to EC commissioners and the prime minister, telling them to furnish reply within three days on what progress was made with regard to its previous order wherein it had said that the poll panel should seriously consider printing separate types of FPTP ballot papers for both provincial and parliamentary elections. “The defendants are ordered to give written reply on what progress they have made to ensure the printing of separate ballot papers,” the SC stated in its order. Shukla’s lawyer Dipendra Jha said that the SC’s order meant that the EC must print separate ballot papers for provincial and parliamentary FPTP elections.
EC Spokesperson Navaraj Dhakal said the poll panel had honoured the SC’s suggestions, but could not print separate ballot papers for FPTP elections due to time constraint and other technical reasons. He said the EC would print separate ballot papers for separate elections in future, as per the SC’s direction.
According to Dhakal, the EC did not have time to print separate ballot papers. He said the poll panel did not have time to train additional human resources even if it somehow managed separate ballot papers for the elections. He said the poll panel would start printing FPTP ballot papers from Friday. The EC said 330 types of ballot papers would be used in the FPTP elections and separate ballot papers would be used in provincial constituencies. There are 165 parliamentary FPTP constituencies and 330 provincial FPTP constituencies throughout the country.
Meanwhile, the SC today ordered the commissioners of the Election Commission and the prime minister to furnish a written reply within three days on what progress the poll panel had made with regard to the apex court’s previous order regarding the types of ballot papers.
A single bench of Justice Dambar Bahadur Shahi issued the show cause notice to EC office bearers and the prime minister who are defendants in the contempt of court case field by Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal leader Sarvendranath Shukla.
The SC had, on October 18, passed an order saying that it expected the EC to seriously consider printing separate ballot papers for provincial and parliamentary FPTP elections. The SC had passed the order again in response to a case filed by Shukla demanding that the EC print separate ballot papers for provincial and parliamentary elections and for FPTP and proportional representation electoral systems.
A version of this article appears in print on October 26, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.