In his speech, SHUJAN secretary Badiul Alam Majumder mentioned that the verdict of the Nur Hossain v Nazrul Islam case has given the EC the authority to cancel elections.

“The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court in its verdict said upon verifying the allegation of violence during the election, rigging the ballot paper or report or allegation that the election was not free and fair, the decision to order to cancel the voting results or re-election is fine,” he said.

The SHUJAN secretary further said if the EC thinks this needs to be included in the law, still seeking the law ministry’s help for this could be suicidal. The ministry could reject the proposal.

According to the Article 111 of the constitution it is a must for everyone to obey the Supreme Court verdicts. What the Supreme Court has said has already become a law. That’s why seeking amendment of the law to add the provision of authority to cancel elections even when a Supreme Court verdict has already given the authority raises some questions
Shahdeen Malik

Voicing concerns for the EC’s proposal to increase its authority to cancel elections, Badiul Alam Majumdar also said as per the existing law the EC has the authority to postpone election and publication of gazette notification and order for re-election. The commission has been using that as well. It seems, as a constitutionally independent organisation the EC is either not aware of its authority or not being able to realise this. Apparently this seeking of authority might seem positive but the results of this seeking of the power that already is there could exactly be the opposite.

Addressing the programme, lawyer Shahdeen Malik said according to the Article 111 of the constitution it is a must for everyone to obey the Supreme Court verdicts. What the Supreme Court has said has already become a law. That’s why seeking amendment of the law to add the provision of authority to cancel elections even when a Supreme Court verdict has already given the authority raises some questions. But sometimes, the verdict is included in the law to make the people, who do not know it, aware of it.

Shahdeen Malik also said the process of putting forth the amendment proposals also does not seem transparent to him. The proposal should have been made after preparing a report based on the proposals the political parties put forth in the dialogues with the EC and consulting about the report with different stakeholders.

SHUJAN thinks the existing constitutional structure undoubtedly is a huge hindrance for holding a free, fair and objective election. The commission has to say the government clearly to remove the hindrances immediately, so that the polls-time administration and law enforcement could carry out their duties objectively and the EC could carry out its mandate of holding fair election successfully.

The EC recently sent a proposal to the law ministry to amend the RPO. Regarding this the SHUJAN said the proposals of the commission are incomplete. It made a few proposals including reinstating the provision of “No Vote”, provision to cancel the nomination for providing false information in the affidavit, including the provision to verify the information provided in the affidavit, making it mandatory to verify the income and expenses of a candidate, including the provision to verify political party’s audited statement and ensuring the voting rights of expatriate Bangladeshis.

SHUJAN, however, has welcomed the proposed provision to ensure 33 per cent women representation at the committees of all levels of a political party by 2030.

Responding to a question of a newsperson, Badiul Alam Majumder said he does not have any proposal to reinstate the provision on caretaker government. The political parties should work on it. This is a national problem and everyone needs to work to reach in a consensus. Reinstating the caretaker government is a political decision, he added.

Local government expert Tofail Ahmed, at the programme, said a huge number of people live outside the country and they can’t cast their votes. There is a system of postal ballot globally. The expatriates need to be given the opportunity of voting through postal ballot.

He also said the middle class people do not go to vote for lack of security these days.