The report alleged that in 2018-19, a number of officials had filched Tk 110 million (Tk 11 crore) from the training budget. It also alleged that just 18 officials including the chief election commissioner, the four commissioners, the election commission secretary, the head of the training institute and other, had pocketed at least Tk 35 million (Tk 3.5 crore) of this. The report also quotes the present secretary questioning the legitimacy of their sharing these funds.

The second letter said that in 2019 Baishakhi Television, after nine months of investigations, ran a seven-part series on the extreme corruption and financial irregularities of the election commission and its Electoral Training Institute. The report brought forward allegations against the chief election commissioner, the four election commissioners, the secretary, the director general of the training institute and other senior officials, accusing them of unethically and unlawfully taking financial benefits by creating 15 'questionable' posts including that of special speaker, course advisor, course director, course coordinator, assistant coordinator and so on.

The report alleged that in 2018-19, a number of officials had filched Tk 110 million (Tk 11 crore) from the training budget. It also alleged that just 18 officials including the chief election commissioner, the four commissioners, the election commission secretary, the head of the training institute and other, had pocketed at least Tk 35 million (Tk 3.5 crore) of this. The report also quotes the present secretary questioning the legitimacy of their sharing these funds.

In the letter sent on behalf of the eminent citizens, Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik said that the election commission was created as a constitutionally independent institution so that it can act independently and neutrally. A secretariat, free of the prime minister's office's control, had been set up for the commission, not to make it into an anarchic institution or for it to misuse its authority to find ways to make away with the taxpayers' money. On the contrary, the letter said, it was formed to neutrally carry out its constitutional duties which were to conduct free, neutral and credible elections.

The letter said, abusing authority to share crores of taxpayers' money among themselves in the name of training was a despicable instance of corruption and the audit objection in this regard has appeared in the media. Taking benefits twice for the same purpose is legally known as 'double-dipping'. This is wrong, unethical and a serious financial misdemeanour.

The letter said that links and CDs of the report shown on Baishakhi Television and YouTube had been enclosed with the letter. Also, links and copies of media reports, editorials and post-editorials pertaining to the relevant audit objection had also been attached. These documents would help the president in taking a decision to form a supreme judicial council to investigate the matter and take action against the present election commission.

The letter said that only proper investigation by a supreme judicial council would be able to prove the allegations of the 42 citizens.

This report has appeared in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten in English by Ayesha Kabir

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