Nepal

Precedent set

Aug 1, 2017
The Supreme Court (SC) on Sunday up held the Election Commission’s decision of calling for re-polling and has ordered a fresh election in Ward Number 19 of the Bharatpur Metropolitan City. The verdict has quashed the writ petition filed earlier against the EC’s decision to conduct such polls after the CPN (Maoist-Center) polling agents allegedly and deliberately and in a premeditated manner tore 90 ballot papers while vote counting was taking place. The hearing process has taken two and a half months, thereby, raising doubts as to whether polling will take place in all the three tiers will be possible within the stipulated deadline of January 21, 2018 unless remedial measures are taken. The ruling of the SC are taken by many as being a bad precedent for similar incidents could take place again if they go unpunished. The SC has stated that the tearing of 90 ballot papers was in fact an authorized capture of a vote counting centre.
 
As per the SC ruling the counting of votes cast by keeping aside the torn ballot papers it would not be possible to know how many votes were cast and the symbols the voters voted for. This is a violation of the Local Level Election Act according to the verdict of SC. It had been argued that the torn ballot papers should be made invalid and vote counting allowed to continue. The existing law related to election must be changed in a manner in which a candidate is held legally responsible to prevent such nefarious acts in the future. Stern action should be taken against the violators who indulge in outrageous activities in the election process thereby serving as a deterrent and ensuring that they would not take place in the future. The verdict has also set a precedent. It is indeed unfortunate that re-polling will be taking place in Ward No 19 of the Bharatpur Metropolitan city. It would be expensive having to re-poll again and also a waste of time and efforts which this impoverished cannot afford. Not only has the vote counting of this ward been discontinued but the votes remain to be counted in Ward 20. The SC has cited legal provisions for its verdict that has annulled the petition.
 
Fortunately, the local level polls took place relatively peacefully in most polling centres with Bharatpur being an exception. UML mayoral candidate Devi Prasad Gyawali was ahead with 733 votes against CPN (Maoist-Centre)’s Renu Dahal who happens to be the daughter of Maoist Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal who was prime minister when the vote counting was obstructed and the ballot papers torn. Because of this the voting in the Bharatpur Metropolitan City is being closely watched by observers. The EC had decided to conduct re-polling in the Ward-19 as per a report of a team to carry out the necessary investigation. Looking ahead there is much we have learned and the EC can take the necessary steps to conduct the polls in a free, fair and peaceful manner. As exercising one’s franchise is a fundamental right of all voters in a democracy every measure necessary towards this end must be taken.
 
Garbage problem
 
People have a tendency of mixing all types of garbage – degradable and non-degradable – into one bin and dump it on the garbage collecting truck or centres. Such tendency has caused great difficulty to employees of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City in segregating the mixed garbage for different purposes. Degradable garbage is used to produce electricity, gas and fertiliser while the non-degradable item is collected by scrape dealers for recycling. If the garbage is segregated at its source it will be easier for municipal employees to better utilize it.
 
The KMC has been producing 14 kilowatts of electricity using the degradable garbage under the waste-to-energy scheme. Such types of plants can be installed in other municipalities to produce energy from waste. The degradable garbage can be used to produce methane gas and fertilizer. All municipalities must launch a massive campaign to educate the people about the ways of separating degradable and non-degradable garbage from their homes. Different types of bins can be distributed to every household for this. The garbage collectors can tell the people how to dispose of their garbage they produce. The garbage collectors should be given authority to refuse to collect the garbage if it is not properly segregated in different bins.
 
The Himalayan Times, August 1, 2017

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