KATHMANDU, Feb 23: Exerting pressure on the political parties to expedite preparations for elections, the Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that it is constitutionally mandatory to hold all three tiers of elections -- local, provincial and federal -- within the stipulated date of January 21, 2018.
A joint bench of Justices Ishwar Khatiwada and Anil Kumar Sinha passed the verdict while drawing attention of the political parties and the government on the Article 296 (1) of the Constitution of Nepal promulgated in September, 2015.
The ruling states that all three tiers of the elections must be held and the requisite structures must be put in place well before January 21, 2018 as the transformed parliament will automatically dissolve after the deadline. “It is mandatory to hold all three tiers of elections including local, provincial and federal level election by January 21, 2018 in order to fully implement the Constitution of Nepal,” states the apex court ruling.
“As the government is being run by the political parties that promulgated new constitution, we can trust that the responsibility [of holding the polls] will be accomplished in time. In the present context, it is the constitutional responsibility to hold all the elections within the deadline stipulated in the constitution,” reads the apex court ruling.
The apex court’s ruling comes in response to a writ petition filed earlier, seeking the announcement of the date for local level election. The ruling that comes after the government announced to hold the local level poll on May 14 has ordered the government to ensure that two other elections are also held within the constitutional deadline of January 21, 2018.
The apex court has blamed the then government and the political parties for not holding the elections for a long time even as there was favorable environment for holding the polls. While maintaining that periodic elections are not only necessary but also mandatory in democracy, the ruling states that the political parties had chosen to run the local bodies through a ‘nominated democracy’ for a long time.