Poll body’s rush to enforce court decision raises questions about its credibilityThat the commission had shown no urgency to resolve the NCP dispute leaves room for suspicion, former officials argue.
The Election Commission, which faced criticism for its indecision over the legitimacy dispute of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), has actively taken notice of Sunday’s Supreme Court verdict to scrap the party.
Commission officials, who couldn’t pass a verdict on the dispute for a month, took just one working day to notify the leadership of the erstwhile CPN (UML) and CPN (Maoist Centre) parties about implementing the court order and cancelling the registration of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP)—much to the surprise of critics and observers.
“The commission failed to exhibit a uniform stance before and after the court verdict,” a former election commissioner told the Post on the condition of anonymity. “Such tendencies raise questions over the credibility of the commission and its ability to hold free and fair elections,” the former commissioner added.
The court scrapped the registration of Nepal Communist Party (NCP), formed after a merger between the CPN (UML) and CPN (Maoist Centre), on Sunday.
The verdict reached the commission through electronic medium, as ordered by the court on Sunday. As Monday was a public holiday on the occasion of International Women’s Day, the commission notified the concerned parties about the Supreme Court decision.
Even though the NCP faction led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal registered an application on February 2 claiming to represent the party as per the section 44 (1) of the Political Parties Act, the commission had remained mum on the issue despite repeated follow up from the group.
The commission also faced allegations that it had been working under the influence of Prime Minister Oli as it couldn’t pass a verdict for more than a month after the Dahal-Nepal faction claimed to represent the scrapped party.
The inaction even prompted five former chief commissioners and commissioners of the election body to urge the poll body to pass a verdict on the dispute at the earliest as the delay raised questions over the credibility of the constitutional body.
“The commission continued to say that it was studying the case and pushed its spokesperson to speak to the media,” said the former commissioner. “But, following the court verdict, the chief commissioner himself told the media that the commission was ready to take whatever decision was needed with respect to the NCP dispute, that too at the earliest.”
The former commissioner said that the way the situation developed, it seems the commission was waiting for events to unfold just the way they have unfolded.
“The commission’s rush to implement the court verdict is commendable,” said former Election Commissioner Dolakh Bahadur Gurung. “But, the commission’s failure to show similar urgency in settling the legitimacy dispute in now scrapped Nepal Communist Party (CPN) before the court verdict has raised questions about the intention of the commission.”
Critics say that the commission’s failure to withstand pressure from the leaders of the UML and Maoist Centre three years ago to register the , Nepal Communist Party (NCP) even though section 6 (1E) of Political Parties Act-2017 clearly states that a new party cannot be registered if the proposed name or its election symbol matches with that of an already registered party.
After the court verdict, the Dahal-Nepal faction of the scrapped party appears to be at a disadvantage.
“This verdict showed that those who get their job done by pressurising constitutional bodies such as the Election Commission, face negative consequences themselves,” said former Chief Election Commissioner Bhojraj Pokharel.