Stakeholders call to implement apex court order to enable Nepalis abroad to vote

KATHMANDU: The apex court order to make voting arrangements for the Nepalis abroad has been witnessed dillydally in the implementation aspect. 

The stakeholders have also noted that it was feasible to enforce the Supreme Court order. 

At a virtual policy dialogue series organized by Nepal Policy Institute (NPI) on Sunday, the stakeholders said the franchise right was possible for Nepali immigrants through the use of technology. 

“Wherever they are, those having Nepali identity should be provided with voting right. The Election Commission has already undertaken a study in this regard”, said former Chief Election Commissioner Nilakantha Uprety. 

He further said, “The apex court has issued an order to this effect but it has not been taken into action”. Uprety opined that Nepali people residing outside the country can be included in voters’ roll in coordination with the Election Commission and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

“Image and biometrics are taken while issuing the passport. These records are collected also in course of providing voter ID card”, he further said, adding, “The Election Commission can obtain all these information from the Foreign Ministry”. 

Associate Dean of Kathmandu University School of Management Prof Dr Achyut Wagle said franchise rights would continue to remain until and unless passport and citizenship are given up. 

“There has been political manoeuvring on the data of Nepali people residing abroad. It is stated that over four million people are residing outside which is a grave issue. This will adversely affect the management”, Dr Wagle noted. 

“There is no source to support the data that four million Nepali people are living abroad”, he commented. 

“Remittance has substantially contributed to the national economy by maintaining macroeconomic stability. It has also provided support in enhancing access to nutrition and primary education, and also expanding urbanization. 

So, those making such contributions should in no way be deprived of franchise right”, said senior advocate Dinesh Tripathi. 

He further said the State had no option but to implement the apex court decision. 

“It may be noted that the apex court had issued an order to arrange voting right for the Nepali people residing abroad some four years ago. The Constitution has also not imposed any discrimination among the citizens. Now we are a technology-enabled world that does not distinguish any border. With the use of technology voting arrangements can be made easily”, he emphasized. 

“The State is only required to show political will for the management. There needs to be broader advocacy at the higher level for this”, Tripathi added. 

NPI Chair Khagendra Dhakal also stressed the need to immediately enforce the apex court order in favour of Nepali immigrants who are the big contributors to the national economy. 

“The Philippines, Mexico and Indonesia have already granted voting rights to its citizens residing outside the country.  We should also take this reference”, he asserted. 

Human rights advocate, Saru Joshi, who also moderated the event, also underscored the need to pile pressure on the political parties to get franchise right materialized for immigrants. RSS

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