Legal hurdle for local poll prepsThe delay by the government in clearing legal hurdles has hampered the Election Commission’s preparations for holding the long-overdue local polls.
The delay by the government in clearing legal hurdles has hampered the Election Commission’s preparations for holding the long-overdue local polls.
The EC faces difficulties in conducting the election for local government units in April, as a draft electoral law gathers dust at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The draft to amend the Local Bodies (Election Procedure) Act was presented to the ministry for approval. The paper effecting amendments to the old law in line with the changed constitutional and legal provisions is moving nowhere.
“It’s more than two months since we forwarded the electoral law to the Home Ministry for consent,” said Election Secretary Sharada Prasad Trital. “The delay has affected our preparations for the local polls.”
Legal experts in the EC had produced the draft changing some clauses that contradict the provisions of the new constitution and other laws introduced in recent years. According to the drafters, the paper proposes 50 percent women candidates from political parties, right to reject candidates and the mandate for the EC to announce local polls in phases.
“As per our information, the draft on local body election is still under consideration at the Home Ministry,” said Suvas Bhattarai, under-secretary at the Law Ministry.
When the Home Ministry accepts the draft, it will be forwarded to the Law Ministry before being tabled in the Cabinet. The draft comes into force when the President endorses it following a parliamentary approval.
EC sees the possibility of holding municipal elections within June if the government sets the stage and announces the date in consultation with the major parties. Acting Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav said the commission was prepared to hold the polls in some local bodies before monsoon starts in the second week of June.
In view of holding the elections within the April window, the election commission is planning to update the voter roll and train the human resource. Secretary Trital said the commission can conduct the polls within 120 days of readying the laws and the parties’ consent.
In a meeting with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli in the first week of January, the EC commissioners had sought the legal clearance and the announcement of the election date. The PM, while asking the commission to start preparations, had stressed prioritising the earthquake-affected districts for the polls.
Local bodies have been without elected people’s representatives since 2002.