Court upholds EC’s re-polling decision

- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jul 31, 2017-

After a nearly two month long hearing process, the Supreme Court on Sunday upheld the Election Commission’s decision to conduct re-polling at Ward 19 of Bharatpur Metropolitan City, where ballot papers were torn.
Vote count in the ward was halted after CPN (Maoist Centre) cadres allegedly stormed into the counting centre and tore 90 ballots on May 28 during the first phase of local level elections.
The verdict created a public outcry with social media users expressing worry that the ruling might set a bad precedent on election.
A division bench of Justices Om Prakash Mishra and Purushottam Bhandari upheld the EC’s decision to go for re-polling despite the petitioners’ plea for continuing with the counting of votes instead.
Since the EC had taken the decision citing legal provisions, the verdict states, the petition would be annulled. The court also directed the EC to properly guard election materials.
Re-polling in Bharatpur was stalled after the apex court issued a stay order. Sunday’s verdict scraps the interim order issued by a single bench of Justice Cholendra Shumsher Rana.
Senior Advocates Laxmi Bahadur Nirala, Ram Prasad Shrestha, Satish Krishna Kharel, Rabi Khanal and Advocates Tikaram Bhattarai and Govinda Bandi, among others, had pleaded in favour of the writ petitioners claiming that re-polling could encourage people to tear ballot papers in future on various pretexts. They had also demanded annulment of the EC decision claiming that the counting centre was not captured as claimed by election officials. Attorney General Raman Kumar Shrestha and other government attorneys had pleaded against the writ.
With the court’s verdict, the EC will now announce the date for re-election in the Bharatpur ward.
On June 27, EC officials handed over necessary documents including the damaged ballot papers to the SC secretariat.
The EC on June 3 decided to conduct re-election in the ward based on a report prepared by a probe team.
CPN-UML mayoral candidate Devi Prasad Gyawali was leading the race with 733 votes against CPN (Maoist Centre)’s Renu Dahal, the daughter of former prime minister and Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, when the incident occurred.
 
 
Bharatpur ward 19 ballot row
 
July 30: SC upholds EC’s decision to conduct re-polling
July 27: Hearing continues
July 23: Hearing continues
July 12: Hearing begins by division bench of justices Om Prakash Mishra and Purushottam Bhandari 
July 10: Hearing postponed
July 7: Hearing of the case delayed due to time constraint
June 27: EC officials handed over documents 
June 20: SC directs EC to produce documents in a week
June 13: Hearing postponed
June 11: Hearing postponed
June 5: SC issues interim order staying EC’s decision 
June 4: Ward member candidate Gunjaman BK and Advocate Tulsiram Pandey jointly file petition seeking annulment of EC decision
June 3: EC decides to hold re-election at Ward-19
May 29: Commission forms probe panel led by Joint-Attorney Gita Prasad Timsina
May 28: Maoist cadres tear 90 ballot papers

Published: 31-07-2017 06:51

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