Views divided on EC’s decision

Kathmandu, October 27

Lawyers are divided over the Election Commission’s decision to start printing single ballot paper for both provincial and parliamentary first-past-the-post elections.

The Supreme Court had issued an order on Wednesday to EC commissioners and the prime minister telling them to furnish reply within three days on what progress was made regarding 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.

Senior Advocate Prem Bahadur Khadka said that both SC and EC had been exploiting legal loopholes on the ballot paper issue. He said the EC should not do anything against the SC’s order.

He, however, said that the poll panel was making an excuse by saying that it had not received a copy of the SC’s order and the EC could say so till it got the copy.  He said that the SC might not be able to prevent the EC from printing FPTP ballot papers if the EC was able to print huge quantity of the ballot papers as was the case with the PR ballot papers.

The SC had said on October 18 that since the EC had already printed PR ballot papers; there was no need to issue an order about the same.

Senior Advocate Shambhu Thapa said the SC’s first verdict regarding ballot papers was like a precedent and the second order passed by a single bench was like a personal judgment of the justice. “Questions will be raised on several other verdicts of the SC if its orders cause to create vacuum by rendering elected body defunct,” said Thapa.

Former election commissioner Birendra Prasad Mishra said single ballot paper for both provincial and parliamentary elections would create confusion among illiterate voters. He said over 30 per cent people throughout the country were illiterate and real people’s mandate would not come from the elections, if both provincial and the parliamentary elections were held using a single ballot paper.

“Elections should not be held just for election’s sake. It should represent people’s verdict,” said Mishra. He said the EC was not doing justice to voters and fulfilling its constitutional duties by starting to print single ballot paper for both provincial and parliamentary polls.