KATHMANDU: The Supreme Court of Nepal on Wednesday has issued a directive order in the name of Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) and other ministries concerned, including Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Election Commission, regarding the external voting rights of Nepali migrant workers.
The public interest litigation (PIL) was filed before the Supreme Court demanding the legal mechanism to ensure “external voting or out of country voting” in order to ensure the voting rights of Nepali migrant workers abroad. The bench of Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Purushottam Bhandari issued the directive order.
According to a press release issued by Law and Policy Forum for Social Justice (LAPSOJ), on Wednesday, the application seeks to preserve the underlining right of ‘opportunity to vote’ of migrant workers — as an as an inherent right falling within the ambit of right to vote and freedom of expression — and create an opportunity to participate in election through out of country mechanisms.
LAPSOJ had filed the PIL at the apex court on April 27, 2017. Considering the significance of the case, the show cause notice on the case had been issued by the court on May 4, 2017 and the case had been placed under priority hearing.
Yesterday, during the main hearing advocates Hari Phuyal, Barun Ghimire, Anurag Devkota, Alok Pokharel and Kedar Dahal argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of the applicant organisation.
Over four million Nepali voters are said to be living abroad in 110 different countries. The exponential rise in foreign labour migration has produced a snowball effect on the economy of the nation, the press release states, adding that the government has largely failed to follow up on the implementation of its own laws and policies. The statement further reads that the most important decision on migrants’ welfare has also been the most discarded.
According to the statement, the directive order issued by the Supreme Court would serve as a well-timed opportunity for Nepali workers abroad to take part in public affairs of their country and choose their representatives who will voice and vouch for their rights and access to justice in the future.