Show cause notice to government and poll commission over local election dateA mayor had filed a petition saying holding local polls on May 13 deprives many representatives of their right to serve for a full term.
The Supreme Court has issued a show cause order to the government and the Election Commission for their decision to hold local level elections in a single phase on May 13.
A single bench of Justice Bishwombhar Prasad Shrestha issued the show cause after a hearing on a petition filed by Sanjeev Kumar Sah, the mayor of Bhangaha Municipality in Mahottari in the Madhes province, arguing that holding local level polls across the country in one go deprives some of the local representatives of their constitutional right to serve for full five years.
The government on February 7 announced that local level polls will be held on May 13 across the country in a single phase. In 2017, local level polls were held in three phases—on May 14, June 18 and September 28.
According to Sah, holding elections on May 13 will mean those elected from the second and third phases of local elections will be deprived of their right to serve for a full five-year term as provided in the constitution.
“The Supreme Court has issued a show cause notice, but has refused to issue an interim order demanded by the petitioner,” said Devendra Dhakal, information officer of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court administration had earlier on February 8 refused to register Sah’s petition. Sah then filed yet another petition challenging the court administration’s decision to reject his petition.
On February 16, Justice Ishwar Prasad Khatiwada had directed the administration to register the petition, saying since Sah’s petition has raised a serious question about the tenure of the local representatives and conflicting provisions in the Local Level Elections Act and the constitution, it is necessary for the court to take a decision on the matter.
“The different provisions in the Constitution of Nepal and the Local Level Election Act need to be interpreted,” read Khatiwada's order.
As per Article 215 (6) of the constitution, the terms of office of the mayor/chairperson, deputy mayor/vice-chairperson, ward chairperson and members will be five years from the date of their election.
Section 55 of the Local Level Election Act 2017, however, states that the term of all local representatives is deemed to have begun from the seventh day of the date of the first phase of elections. By that extension, the terms of all representatives, including those who were elected from June 28 and September 18 elections, will end on May 20, as the first phase was held on May 14.
In 2017, elections were held in Bagmati, Gandaki and Karnali provinces in the first phase.
In the second phase, elections were held in Province 1, Lumbini and Sudurpaschim. The third and the last phase of election was held in Province 2, which was recently named Madhes. Sah comes from Madhes Province.
In the first phase, 14,556 representatives were elected for 283 local units. Similarly, the number of representatives elected from the second phase stood at 15,038 for 334 local bodies. In the third phase, elections were held for 136 local bodies to elect 6,627 local representatives.