The Supreme Court has stayed the Election Commission's directive that required candidates contesting local polls to declare that they are not involved in contractual or real estate business.

An aspiring candidate of local polls, Yadap Shrestha, had filed a case against the EC challenging the poll panel's directive that placed such a restriction on candidates.

The Election Commission had issued new directives on March 30 requiring candidates for civic posts to submit affidavits stating that they were not involved in commercial lease/rental, contractual business, or sale and purchase of moveable or immovable property at local levels.

The petitioner argued that since the EC's new restriction was beyond the restriction placed by the Local Election Act against candidates, it was illegal.

The EC, on the other hand, argued that it placed the restriction mainly to ensure that candidates did not have conflict of interest.

The restriction is prima facie illogical, states SC interim order

A single bench of Justice Nahakul Subedi issued an interim order against EC directive stating that the restriction was prima facie illogical. The bench observed that the restriction could be appropriate only for the local level from where a candidate wanted to contest election, but if a person has contractual or real estate business in other local level(s), then they should not be barred from contesting in that local level.

The bench said the restriction was against the right to freedom and the right to equality guaranteed by the constitution. The apex court also ruled that the EC's restriction violated Articles 215, 216, 222, and 223 of the constitution and Sections 12 and 13 of the Local Election Act. It ordered the EC to allow petitioner Yadap Shrestha to contest in civic polls if he did not have any contractual or real estate business in the local level from where he wanted to contest.

Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya had said the EC incorporated the provision requiring candidates to submit such affidavits mainly to ensure good governance.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 21, 2022, of The Himalayan Times