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EC formation bill to be placed in JS today

  • Special Correspondent
  • 23 January, 2022 12:00 AM
  • Print news

The much-talked-about bill to formulate a law on formation of the Election Commission (EC) is set to be placed in Parliament today.

Law Minister Anisul Huq will table the bill titled ‘Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Appointment Bill, 2022’ in the House.

He will also propose sending the bill to the parliamentary standing committee on the respective ministry for further scrutiny, shows today’s business schedule of the Jatiya Sangsad sitting published on Saturday.

The bill has been brought under article 118 (1) of the Constitution, which stipulates: “There shall be an Election Commission for Bangladesh consisting of [the Chief Election Commissioner and not more than four Election Commissioners] and the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (if any) shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf, be made by the President.”

An official of the Parliament Secretariat said the parliamentary standing committee will be advised to send back the bill along with the scrutiny report within the quickest possible time.

The Cabinet on January 17 approved the bill, proposing formation of a search committee, led by an Appellate Division justice, for appointing the CEC and other election commissioners, amid a demand from major political parties to appoint them as per the law.

According to the draft law, a justice of the Appellate Division, nominated by the Chief Justice, will be the head of the six-member search committee.

A justice of the High Court Division nominated by the Chief Justice, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the Chairman of the Bangladesh Public Service Commission and two other personalities nominated by the President will be the other members of the panel.

The tenure of the incumbent EC, led by KM Nurul Huda, ends on February 14. The President will have to constitute the new commission by then.

Considering the matter, the government has four weeks for the passage of the law if the next EC is to be constituted as per the law.

The Constitution empowers the President to make an appointment to the EC under a law.

A debate emerges each time during reconstitution of the EC as such law has not been enacted in the last 50 years.  

While reconstituting the EC in 2012, late President Zillur Rahman held talks with registered political parties, including Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jatiya Party, and formed a search committee asking it to propose names for the CEC and other commissioners. The President then appointed the CEC and other commissioners from the list.

After taking oath as President, M Abdul Hamid followed the path of his predecessor for reconstituting the EC in 2017 and is following so this time too.

President Abdul Hamid invited some 32 political parties, including AL, BNP and Jatiya Party, to the dialogue on the EC reconstitution. However, seven parties, including BNP, boycotted the talks.

Attending the talks, almost all the parties proposed enactment of a law to appoint the CEC and other EC members.

Meanwhile, former CEC ATM Shamsul Huda on Saturday underlined the need for taking some more time before enacting the law. “It seems that there’re some lacks in the proposed law on formation of the Election Commission. It seems that the law has been formulated just for a search committee,” he said while addressing a programme in the capital.

Advising the government not to hurry to enact the EC law, he said, “It must be ensured that the law is acceptable to the people. Some more time may be taken for enacting a better law. A faulty law won’t yield any good results.”

About the qualifications of the CEC and other election commissioners, the proposed law said they must be Bangladeshi citizens with minimum 50 years old, and have at least 20 years of work experience in important government, semi-government, private or judicial posts.

If a person is declared ‘insane’ by any court, has not been released from jail after being declared as ‘bankruptcy’, acquires the citizenship of or affirms the allegiance to a foreign country surrendering Bangladeshi citizenship, has been convicted for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude and sentenced to at least two-year imprisonment, convicted by international crime tribunal, and is disqualified for such posts by or under any law, he or she would not be eligible for the post of CEC and election commissioners.

It also mentions that if a person once holds the post of CEC or the Chief Justice, he or she would not be eligible for the post of the CEC.

But if a person holds the post of election commissioner, he or she might be considered for appointment to the CEC.