Poll panel to abide by court directive

Kathmandu, October 29

The Election Commission, which claimed on Friday that it had started printing ballot papers for the first-past-the-post provincial and parliamentary elections on a single sheet, said today it would print separate ballot papers for the two polls.

A meeting of EC commissioners, including Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhi Prasad Yadav, held at the EC’s central office decided to print separate ballot papers after a meeting with Attorney General Basanta Ram Bhandari.

Provincial and parliamentary elections are scheduled to be held in two phases on November 26 and December 7.

The EC’s decision to print separate ballot papers for provincial and parliamentary FPTP polls follows the Supreme Court’s recent order in which the SC observed that there were mandatory provisions for printing separate ballot papers for the two polls.

Responding to a contempt of court case filed by Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal leader Sarvendranath Shukla, the SC on Wednesday ordered election commissioners and the prime minister to furnish written replies within three days on what progress they had made regarding its previous order asking commissioners to seriously consider printing separate ballot papers for provincial and parliamentary polls. Both the SC orders were passed in response to the cases filed by Shukla.

“We have taken the SC’s directive positively. We’ll make public our official decision on FPTP ballot papers tomorrow,” EC Commissioner Sudhir Kumar Shah told THT. He said the poll panel would also furnish its reply to the SC tomorrow.

When asked whether it was possible to print separate FPTP ballot papers, EC Spokesperson Navaraj Dhakal said, “Circumstances have changed and the number of parties contesting polls has come down.”

When asked if Janak Education Material Centre had started printing ballot papers, JEMC General Manager Mahesh Timalsina said he was not authorised to divulge information regarding that.

A top source at the EC said the EC printed ballot papers on Friday and Saturday and the JEMC had the capacity to print eight lakh ballot papers a day. “I do not know the exact number of ballot papers that were printed in two days but I believe that the EC might have printed 1.6 million ballot papers. The EC will have to burn those ballot papers,” the source added.

The source said printing of FPTP ballot papers was halted today due to power outage.

“Yesterday’s hailstorm caused power outage in our area and our staffers have been busy doing maintenance work,” the source added.

Durga Bhattarai, who is serving at Nepal Electricity Authority section office in Thimi, Bhaktapur, however, said electricity problems caused by the hailstorm were resolved in the afternoon.