Nepali voters didn’t have the option of rejecting candidates during the recent constituent assembly election but they could do so when the country goes to polls the next time.
On Sunday Nepal’s Supreme Court directed the government and the election commission to make provisions so that voters have the right to cast negative votes against candidates.
With this Nepal becomes the third country in South Asia after India and Bangladesh and among nearly dozen countries in the world that guarantees this right to their voters.
A joint bench comprising Justice Prakash Wasti and Justice Kalyan Shrestha ordered that from now on there should be ‘none of the above’ option available in ballot papers to enable voters to reject candidates.
“Voters can choose this option if they dislike all the candidates or when the candidates they prefer do not participate in the election,” the bench stated.
The bench was delivering verdict on a petition filed ahead of the constituent assembly election held in November seeking amendment of present provisions that doesn’t provide this right to voters.
“The current provision infringes on the peoples’ right to reject a candidate,” said the petition filed by lawyers Swagat Nepal and Bhairaja Rai on behalf of an NGO called Campaign against Crime and Terrorism.
The petitioners stated disallowing voters the option to reject candidates goes against provisions of the country’s interim constitution and also of international declarations.
Nepal’s interim government which is headed by the country’s chief justice is yet to give an official reaction to the verdict but the election commission has welcomed it.
Chief Election Commissioner Neel Kanth Uprety stated the move would help improve electoral practices in Nepal and present laws would be amended to enable voters enjoy this electoral right.
If the laws get amended soon, voters could reject candidates in the local body elections expected to be held this year.