KATHMANDU, Nov 56: The Supreme Court on Sunday asked the Nepal Bar Association (NBA) and the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) to send amici curiae to plead in the apex court Monday in relation to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) that demands voting rights for public servants and security personnel deployed on election duty.
Following Sunday's hearing on the petition, a division bench of justices Deepak Raj Joshee and Dambar Bahadur Shahi asked the bar bodies to send one representative each to plead as amicus curiae. Stating that this issue was sensitive as it is associated with the fundamental rights of citizens, the bench asked the two bodies to send their representatives.
The order came in response to a writ petition filed by deputy attorney general Bharat Prasad Mainali seeking the apex court order to the authorities -- the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, Election Commission, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice and the Ministry of General Administration--to ensure the voting rights of the government employees deployed on election duty. The government is holding parliamentary and provincial elections simultaneously in two phases on November 26 and December 7.
Citing Article 84 (5) of the Constitution which has guaranteed any citizen of eighteen years and above to cast vote in any one electoral constituency, the petitioner has sought the apex court order to allow the civil servants and security personnel deployed on election duty to cast their votes for parliamentary and provincial assembly elections under the proportional representation system.
Almost 500,000 civil servants, security personnel and temporary police are set to be deployed for the elections.
"Since adult franchise was ensured during the elections to the Constituent Assembly elections and even the prisoners were allowed to vote, the civil servants and security personnel deployed on poll duty should be allowed to exercise their voting rights," the petitioner argued.
Immediately after receiving the request from the Supreme Court, both the bar bodies have picked their representatives. According to advocate Laxman Acharya who is NBA central member, senior advocate Prakash KC will represent the NBA. Likewise, senior advocate Chandra Kanta Gyawali has been selected for representing SCBA, according to SCBA chair Shailendra Kumar Dahal.