District judges can be appointed as returning officers: Akbar Ali Khan

Akbar Ali KhanProthom Alo file photo

Akbar Ali Khan, an advisor to the former caretaker government and former cabinet secretary, said that the district judges could be appointed as the returning officers instead of deputy commissioners based on the past experience.

For a better election, an election-time government can be formed following Pakistan’s current electoral system, with a former chief justice acting as head of the government and officials in the judiciary will be involved in conducting the polls.

Akbar Ali Khan made this remark while addressing a debate competition organised by Debate for Democracy in the capital’s FDC on Saturday.

He said as per the law, only officials of the executive branch are engaged in conducting the polls.

If elections are held under a partisan government, the executive branch cannot do anything beyond the directives of the ruling party, moreover they think of making benefit in future. Therefore, in the current context of Bangladesh, it is not possible for the election commission alone to hold a free and fair election.

The former cabinet further said that there are precedents in Bangladesh where the candidates get elected with 100 per cent votes. Although the election commission has the authority to cancel the election in case of such incidents, it was not applied.

Those, who were involved in the election engineering, were declared the winners by the commission. Therefore, the current commission must be courageous.

Akbar Ali Khan further said in the current context of Bangladesh, it is difficult to amend the electoral system if the ruling party does not want to. However, it is possible to bring in changes through the long term movement. However, a political consensus would be needed in this case too.

The government will suffer if it interferes in the election. There will be indirect pressure from foreigners for organising a participatory election. However, it is difficult to assume as to how the government reacts to that pressure from abroad.

Chairman of Debate for Democracy, Hasan Ahmed Chowdhury Kiran, presided over the programme.