EDITORIAL: Respect SC order

The EC should be prepared to print separate ballot papers if the SC orders so as the apex court’s order is binding to all state organs

Despite the ruling of the Supreme Court the Election Commission says that it is unable to print separate ballot papers for the provincial and parliamentary first-past-the-post elections. Incidentally, the Supreme Court on October 18 had issued a stay order stating that the EC “seriously consider the printing of separate ballot papers” for the provincial and parliamentary FPtP polls. The prime minister and EC commissioners were told by the apex court to furnish a reply within three days regarding the progress being made for printing separate types of FFtP ballot boxes for the provincial and parliamentary polls. An EC commissioner is quoted as saying that there is insufficient time to print the separate ballot papers and that the holding of the November 26 election was not possible if they had to print separate ballot papers.

The provincial and parliamentary polls should not be deferred under any circumstances and they should be held on November 26 and December 7 as decided by the government. Delaying the polls could result in further political instability and there should be no excuses from the concerned to do so under one pretext or the other. The argument that the poll panel would not be able to train the additional manpower that would be needed for the conduct of the polls with separate ballot papers does not hold water. Even the separate ballot papers can be managed for holding the polls. The present developments have allegedly raised questions as to whether the polls would be held on the stipulated dates. This should not be the case and everything possible should be done to hold the elections within the time frame given.

Meanwhile, the EC has almost completed the task of printing of the ballot papers for elections under the proportional system, and it would be printing the FPtP ballot papers from Friday. According to the EC, 330 types of ballot papers would be used for the FPtP and there would be separate ballot papers for the provincial constituencies. The total number of parliamentary FPtP constituencies is 165 and 330 constituencies for provincial assemblies. Since the dates for the parliamentary and provincial polls are fast approaching this issue should be settled so the elections take place. . The EC should be prepared to print separate ballot papers if the SC orders so as the apex court’s order is binding to all state organs. Provincial assemblies are independent entities, not an extension or part of the federal parliament; and they exist in their own rights under a separate act. Also, the electorate have different reasons to elect one party or the other – or one set of leaders or the other – to the provincial assemblies and the federal parliament. Because the voters elect separate entities they deserve separate ballot papers. Going by the experience of the local level elections held recently the number of invalid votes is very high. The concerned, in this case, the Election Commission therefore needs to carry out timely voters’ education to ensure that  the ordinary voters cast their ballots properly. . The only thing that’s important is that the voters are able to exercise their franchise in a free and fair manner without any intimidation. The EC in particular has to act to make the holding of elections possible with support from all concerned.

Failed scheme

The government had issued new taxi permits to 1,500 quake victims through  a lucky draw in June to assist them with their livelihood. But many of the quake victims who had won the lucky draw have failed to purchase taxis, and they have been found to have sold the taxi numbers to others due to lack of money to buy the vehicles. The government did not give any financial support to the quake victims to buy taxis. It only gave them the taxi number and road permits to operate them wherever they want.

It costs around Rs. 1.6 million to buy a taxi. This is a huge amount of money for a quake victim whose livelihood has been ruined after his home and even land were damaged or buried in landslides. Another problem is that a quake victim who has won the taxi number through the lucky draw has to live in the Kathmandu Valley if s/he wants to operate the taxi as it would be a loss-making venture if one wants to operate it outside the Valley. The government scheme seems to be impractical. The scheme was introduced without proper homework and financial constraints they face. The victims must have been given financial support by the government.