Supreme Court issues directive order to ensure voting rights of Nepali migrant workers


Kathmandu, 21 March (2018) – The Supreme Court of Nepal on Wednesday issued a directive order in the name of Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) and other ministries concerned including Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Election Commission regarding the External Voting Rights of Nepalese Migrant Workers.

The Public Interest Litigation was filed before the Supreme Court demanding legal mechanism to ensure the “External voting or out of country voting” apparatuses to ensure the voting rights of Nepali migrant workers abroad. The application sought that the underlining right of ‘opportunity to vote’ of migrant workers as an inherent right falling within the ambit of right to vote and freedom of expression hence, creating an opportunity to take part in election through out of country mechanisms.

The bench of Justices Sapana Pradhan Malla and Purushottam Bhandari issued the directive order.

Law and Policy Forum for Social Justice (LAPSOJ) filed the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) at the apex court on 27 April 2017. Considering the significance of the case, the show cause notice on the case was issued by the court on 4 May 2017 and the case was placed under priority hearing.

Today during the main hearing Advocates Hari Phuyal, Barun Ghimire, Anurag Devkota, Alok Pokharel and Kedar Dahal argued before the Supreme Court on behalf of the applicant organization.

Over 4 million Nepali voters are said to be living in 110 different countries. The exponential rise in foreign labour migration has produced a snowball effect on the economy of the nation. However, the government has largely failed to follow up on the implementation of its own laws and policies.

Thus, the most important decision on migrants’ welfare has also been the most discarded. The directive order issued by the Supreme Court of Nepal would serve as a well-timed opportunity for the Nepalese workers abroad to take part in the Public affairs of their country and choose their representatives who will voice and vouch for their rights and access to justice in the future discourse.