Election commissioners say they are confused over how to move ahead in the context of the court asking it to print separate ballot papers for provincial and parliamentary elections.
KATHMANDU, Oct 27: The Election Commission (EC) is in a fix over its future course in holding scheduled parliamentary and provincial elections after the Supreme Court (SC) sought details from the election body about the progress made in printing ballot papers for the elections.
Responding to a contempt of court petition filed by Rastriya Janata Party Nepal leader Sarvendra Nath Shukla, the apex court on Wednesday had sought details in writing from the EC about the progress made in printing separate ballot papers for parliamentary and provincial elections. The election body has not yet received the court order. Election commissioners say they are confused over how to move ahead in the context of the court asking it to print separate ballot papers for provincial and parliamentary elections.
"We have informally learnt that the court has asked us about the progress made in printing two separate ballot papers for the upcoming elections although we have not received any formal letter from the court administration. Till now, we are all prepared for polls on schedule," said Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav adding that the election body will speak about the issue officially once it receives a letter from the court. "But it has certainly created some confusions," he said.
Based on an agreement made among the political parties, the election body has started to print ballot papers for Proportional Representation category while it plans to begin printing ballot papers for the First-Past-the-Post electoral system from Friday onward. It is not sure when the EC administration will receive the court order as government offices will open only on Sunday. The government has announced public holiday for Friday for Chhath celebrations while government offices remain closed on Saturday.
'I can't say anything about when this issue will be settled. As a constitutional body we are under compulsion to respect the court order," said EC Spokesperson Navaraj Dhakal.
EC commissioners fear whether the ballot paper row will affect the current schedule of the parliamentary and provincial elections. They said it will be technically difficult to conduct the elections on the scheduled dates arguing that redesigning separate ballot papers for the polls and arranging additional logistics such as ballot boxes and poll screens will take time. "At least 70 million ballot papers need to be printed if separate ballot papers are to be printed for both the parliamentary and provincial elections and we need additional logistics. This will add challenges to conduct polls on scheduled date," EC Commissioner Narendra Dahal had told Republica after the court sought clarification.