SC calls parties, EC to discuss 33 pc women candidates

- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Nov 22, 2017-The Supreme Court has called three major political parties and the Election Commission next week to discuss ways to honour the constitutional requirement of 33 percent women candidates in the upcoming federal and provincial elections.

The EC has scheduled the first phase of federal and provincial polls on November 26 and the second phase on December 7.

A single bench of Justice Om Prakash Mishra on Sunday decided to call the political parties and the EC for discussion citing the urgency of the matter.

Former member of the Constituent Assembly Kamala Thapa had filed a writ petition at the SC demanding an interim order to the government not to continue with the election process without ensuring one-third women candidates in the direct polls.

The parties plan to ensure 33 percent women candidates through their respective Proportional Representation lists in which they have enlisted 55 percent women on an average. But the advocates have opposed the idea claiming that it was sheer deception on the part of the political parties against the constitution’s spirit to have at least 33 percent female candidates in the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system. They could fill the gap from the PR list only in case of underrepresentation of women in Parliament.

Senior Advocates Bal Krishna Neupane and Hira Regmi and Advocate Bikash Bhattarai had pleaded on behalf of the writ petitioner.

According to Advocate Bhattarai, the SC has taken the issue seriously as the number of FPTP candidates from even the major parties was negligible.

The apex court has ordered the defendants to submit written clarifications within 15 days on why an interim order should not be issued.

Citing the constitutional provision, Thapa has demanded that the EC should proceed with the polls only after ensuring one-third women candidates for FPTP elections at a time when “the EC is moving ahead ignoring the constitutional provision”.

She argues that the constitutional provision of proportional representation system would only be attracted when the FPTP’s one-third women candidates fail to be elected. “But without fielding candidates, the parties cannot claim that women candidates failed to be elected,” Thapa argues in the petition.

Article 84 (8) of the constitution states: “Notwithstanding anything contained elsewhere in this Part, at least one-third of the total number of members elected from each political party representing in the Federal Parliament must be women. If women are not so elected as to constitute one third of the elected members of any political party under sub-clause (a) of clause (1) and sub-clause (a) of clause (2) of Article 86, such political party must, in electing members under sub-clause (b) of clause (1), so elect that women members constitute at least one third of the total number of members elected to the Federal Parliament from that party.”

Citing the EC data, writ petitioner Thapa has said the UML has fielded only five women candidates in federal and 10 in provincial FPTP polls; Nepali Congress has only nine women in federal and six in provincial polls while Maoist Centre has four women candidates in direct federal and nine in provincial elections.

Published: 22-11-2017 07:42

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