In 6 (d) of the draft bill placed in the parliament, it was stated that a person convicted of a criminal offence involving moral turpitude and sentenced to at least two-year imprisonment cannot be picked for the post of CEC and election commissioners. A recommendation has been made to change two years of imprisonment to only ‘imprisonment’. That means a person convicted of a criminal offence would lose eligibility for the posts.
Parliamentary standing committee chairman of the law ministry, Shahiduzzaman Sarkar, on Monday briefed the journalists on the changes.
Law minister Anisul Huq, however, denied the allegation of hastening or maintaining secrecy in the process of making the law. Following Monday's meeting, he told journalists that the law was uploaded on the website of the legislative department immediately after it has been passed by the cabinet.
Asked if the proposed law has given any indemnity to two previous election commissions, the minister said, “You should know that Awami League does not provide any indemnity. Who issued an indemnity ordinance after the killing of father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family in 1975? Rather Awami League revoked the indemnity ordinance. None has been given any indemnity here (in the law).”
"There are two things in the law. One is indemnity and the other is legal coverage. These two things are not the same. Indemnity means giving exemption while legal coverage means bringing within the purview of the law. Peruse the article 9, you would see that no one has been given any indemnity," he added.
In an event on Saturday, former CEC ATM Shamsul Huda said more time could be spent for a good law. Formulating a flawed law hastily would not bode well for anyone.
He said if the proposed law is passed, many amendments would be needed in the future.
ATM Shamsul Huda said reading the draft law gives an impression that the law is about the formation of a search committee, not on formation of election commission. He further said that the law must be enforced taking the opinion of all stakeholders.
Shahiduzzman Sarkar presided over the meeting of the parliamentary standing committee which was attended, among others, by the law minister, lawmakers Mostafizur Rahman, Shamsul Haque, Abdul Mazid Khan, Shamim Haider Patwary, Gloria Jharna Sarkar, Rumeen Farhana and Selim Altaf.
Regarding the alleged indemnity of the two commissions, the standing committee chairman Shahiduzzaman said the article 9 of the proposed law has given legitimacy to two search committees.
He said the proposed law has given legitimacy to the process of forming the last two ECs.
Rumeen told Prothom Alo that she told the meeting that no dialogue with stakeholders was held over the draft bill.
She further told the meeting that the draft bill has no difference with the notification published by the president on 25 January 2017 about forming the search committee for formation of the EC. That is why many people mistake the law as one to form a search committee.
Rumeen said she proposed that the names suggested by the search committee have to be disclosed and discussed. The law did not specify anything on whether the persons proposed by the search committee are truly eligible.
She also alleged that the article 9 of the proposed bill has given indemnity which is against the ‘basic concept’ of the law. The law never encourages ‘retrospective effect’.
Rumeen said her proposals have not been accepted.