Poll bill proposals give EC more teethPolitical parties failing to hold intra-party elections at central and provincial levels on time could be deprived of participating in two consecutive elections if the current provision in bill on political parties is passed as it is.
Political parties failing to hold intra-party elections at central and provincial levels on time could be deprived of participating in two consecutive elections if the current provision in bill on political parties is passed as it is.
The bill, which has been sent to the state affairs committee of Parliament, would empower the EC to impose ban on such political parties from contesting two consecutive elections or fine up to Rs50,000 for failing to accomplish their responsibilities, including holding intra-party polls.
Clause 15 of the bill states that a political party should hold intra-party election at central and provincial levels at least once every five years in line with the statute of the concerned political party. Under the existing law, the EC does not have the authority to prevent any political parties from taking part in the general elections for failing to hold internal polls.
Nepali Congress (NC), the largest party in the Legislature-Parliament, held its general convention in March 2016—five years after the previous one but within six months after the expiry of five-year period as per the constitutional provision.
As per the new constitution, the parties can extend the date of general convention for six months under special circumstances. The bill has, however, proposed not to consider extending the six-month grace period for holding party’s internal election when it comes to applying the penalty clause.
The CPN (Maoist Centre), previously the UCPN (Maoist), organised its seventh general convention in 2013 after a gap of 21 years. Political parties have differing views on the proposed bill regarding giving more power to the EC.
“Allowing more power to the EC could lead the democracy to a controlled system,” Senior NC leader Ram Chandra Poudel told the Post. “As the election laws have reached to the parliamentary committee, the issues of concerns will be settled through discussions.”
However, senior CPN-UML leader Jhala Nath Khanal is in favour of giving more authority to the EC to check on illicit activities of certain parties that influence the election results.
The proposed penalty will also be applicable for a party that does not make organisational structure at the central and provincial levels proportional-inclusive.
One of the key provisions in the proposed bill is that a political party should ensure a one-third representation of women in every layer of committee—from the central to the local level.
“The provision of imposing fines and ban on participating in the election could force the parties to be more inclusive,” said Khanal.
The penalty provision will also applicable for a party which does not submit its annual audit report for three consecutive years.
Any party failing to submit details about voluntary financial support as demanded by the EC, indulging in activities in breach of the EC regulations and failing to pay fines as instructed by the EC may also face the same penalty.
The current law on political parties has the provision of imposing a fine of Rs100 on the parties that fail to get their transactions audited or to submit the audit report to the EC on time.
The bill has also proposed to hike the fine amount to Rs20,000 for failure to get transactions audited six months after the end of fiscal year or submit the audit report to the EC in additional one month period. The bill has also proposed a fine of Rs10,000 for failing to provide accounting details of their transactions to a tax official designated by the EC. The parties faces a fine of Rs7,000 if they fail to make public the audit report.