The Supreme Court today issued an interim order to the Election Commission asking it not to bar CPN-UML lawmakers Som Prasad Pandey and Sharada Devi Bhatta from joining the Madhav Kumar Nepal-led CPN (Unified Socialist) party.

The apex court issued the order in response to a writ petition filed by lawmakers Pandey and Bhatta against the Election Commission.

The EC had barred the two lawmakers from joining the CPN (Unified Socialist) for not putting their signatures on the original petition that the faction of the UML led by Madhav Kumar Nepal and Jhalanath Khanal had registered at the EC on August 20 seeking to split the UML and open a new party.

The SC observed that while the poll panel allowed Jhalanath Khanal to verify his support through the Embassy of Nepal in India, it neither allowed the two lawmakers to verify their support nor said anything about the two lawmakers' petition while deciding to register the CPN (Unified Socialist) on August 25.

It said the EC decision was not appropriate when the provisions of Section 33 of the Political Party Act were taken into account.

Khanal, who was recuperating in India, had also not signed the petition but was allowed to verify his signatures through the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi.

A division bench of justices Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada and Nahakul Subedi issued the order and observed that the EC should not bar the two lawmakers from joining the CPN (Unified Socialist) until the final decision in the case.

The EC had barred lawmakers Pandey and Bhatta from joining the CPN (Unified Socialist) for not signing the original application for registering a new party.

The two lawmakers had registered a petition at the EC on August 24, one day before the signature verification process seeking to join the Nepal-led party.

The Nepal-Khanal faction of the UML split the UML and formed CPN (Unified Socialist) after the Sher Bahadur Deuba government brought a new ordinance to lower the threshold for splitting political parties from 40 per cent support in both the central committee and parliamentary party to 20 per cent support either in the central committee or the parliamentary party.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 15 2021, of The Himalayan Times.