SC: Allow voters right to rejectThe Supreme Court on Sunday directed the government to provision the voters’ “right to reject” all candidates in elections henceforth by formulating appropriate laws.
The Supreme Court on Sunday directed the government to provision the voters’ “right to reject” all candidates in elections henceforth by formulating appropriate laws.
Responding to a petition, a division bench of Justice Kalyan Shrestha and Prakash Wosti issued the order to this effect.
Such a rule would allow a voter an option to reject all the candidates mentioned on ballot papers by ticking in a particular box set for the purpose.
The petition was filed at the apex court in October last year, seeking a provision of the right to reject (negative voting) on ballot papers. Petitioners led by Bikash Khadka had demanded that the apex court declare the Election Commission’s decision to print ballot papers (for the CA election) without the provision of negative voting null and void. The court, however, scraped the petition.
Applicants argued that while the Nepali people have the right to cast votes, they do not have the decisive power to reject candidates if they do not represent them. The petition maintains that voters are not in a position to choose candidates as they have limited choices offered by the parties. The defendants in the petition include Interim Election Government Chairman Khil Raj Regmi, the Prime Minister’s Office, the EC and the Law Ministry
EC officials have welcomed the decision, saying that such a practice would help mature democracies. “Nepal would take leap forward towards becoming a mature democracy. The government needs to institute laws towards this end,” said Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kantha Uprety.
The provision of negative voting is practiced in a number of countries, including India, Ukaine, Spain, Colombia and US state of Nevada.
The Indian Supreme Court last month ordered its Election Commission to allow voters to cast votes by pressing a button stating that none of the candidates are fit to be voted. India’s apex court maintained that the provision of negative voting would ensure wider participation in the election as people who are dissatisfied with the candidates in the fray would also turn up to express their views.
Meanwhile, parties have given mixed reactions. CPN-UML leader Pradeep Gyawali said that this provision would help broaden the electoral process. “It is good to have such an option as this will make parties aware that they cannot take voters for granted,” he said.
UCPN (Maoist) leader Khim Lal Devkota was, however, skeptical of the provision. “I am not sure how the provision will be implemented given the level of awareness of the masses,” Devkota remarked.
Echoing Devkota, Nepali Congress leader Radheshyam Adhikari said, “The court seems to have taken a populist approach on such matters. Issues of right to reject can be better implemented in a system which has evolved over several decades. Unfortunately that is not our case,” he said.