CHITWAN, June 21: After convicting two individuals for tearing up ballot papers during the local elections of 2017, Chitwan District Court had announced it would pronounce sentence on them on June 20. However, the sentencing date has been postponed.
The single bench of Judge Muraribabu Shrestha had delivered the verdict in the case. Drona Babu Shiwakoti and Madhu Neupane, two former cadres of then CPN (Maoist-Center), were found guilty. Court registrar Rudramani Giri informed Republica that the sentencing date has been postponed as Judge Shrestha is on leave.
“They have already been convicted,” said Giri, adding, “The court hearing for the sentencing will take place on July 1.”
Ninety ballot papers were torn during vote counting at Bharatpur Metropolitan City Ward-19 on May 29, 2017. Police arrested Shiwakoti and Neupane immediately after the incident came to light. A case was filed against the two on May 31.
On June 1, the then judge at the district court, Basudev Paudel, ordered the two released on bail. After that the case did not make much headway as the hearings date was postponed repeatedly. In fact it was postponed 24 times. The court finally delivered its verdict after two years on June 13.
The two convicted are likely to face Rs 100,000 each in fines and two years behind bars.
Investigations conducted by the district election commissioner’s office found that altogether 90 ballot papers were torn up by Siwakoti and Neupane. The then CPN-UML demanded continuation of the vote count. It was also pointed out that the torn ballots would not affect the poll outcome if either side won by more than 90 votes. But the coalition of the Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN (Maoist-Center) demanded a re-election in the ward.
The Supreme Court ordered a re-election. Devi Prasad Gywali of the then CPN-UML and Renu Dahal from CPN (Maoist-Center) were contesting for the post of mayor. After the re-election, Renu Dahal, who is the daughter of Nepal Communist Party Chairman Pushpa Kamal dahal, won by a narrow margin.