The Election Commission today starts the mammoth task of disposing of 543 appeals against returning officers' nomination rejections.
The pile of appeals includes BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's appeals filed yesterday.
The EC will get only three days to finish the job, as it has to be done before December 9, the last date for withdrawing candidature.
According to the EC's plan, the full commission would sit at the EC Secretariat today at 10:00am to dispose of the first 160 appeals, in the order they were filed. Tomorrow, it would decide on the next 233 and the fate of the remaining 150 would be decided on Saturday, said EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed.
Khaleda's hearing is expected to be on Saturday.
If the commission takes five minutes to dispose of an appeal, it would take at least 13 hours to complete its work for day-1. That is without any break.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda and his colleagues would have to work from morning till midnight.
The commission would hear the appeals like a court hears appeals and the appellants would be allowed to employ lawyers.
The EC Secretariat officials have started preparing seven binders, consisting relevant documents, for each appeal.
For every case, the CEC, the four commissioners, and two EC officials would get a binder each.
The EC Secretariat officials would need to prepare at least 3,800 binders.
The officials were wondering as to how they would complete this job in just three days.
"The hearings will continue as long as it takes to complete," said EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed while announcing the schedule for the appeal hearings.
The appellants would be notified through the ROs and the EC website as to when their appeals would be heard, he said.
The petitioners would be informed about the EC decision the moment their hearings end and they would get a certified copy of the order that very day.
Aggrieved appellants would be able to appeal to the High Court with the certified EC order.
A total of 3,065 nominations were submitted for the December 30 polls and during scrutiny on December 2, the ROs rejected 786 of them.
Conviction in cases, defaulting on loans, and not paying utility bills were among the reasons for rejections.
As a party, the BNP had the highest 141 nominations rejected by the ROs. The AL had only three.
Thirty-eight nominations of the Jatiya Party had been rejected and 384 independents were disqualified.
The disqualified aspirants include heavyweights like Khaleda Zia, Jatiya Party Secretary General Ruhul Amin Hawlader, and Krishak Sramik Janata League President Kader Siddique.
Of the 543 appeals, a record in Bangladesh's electoral history, 84 were filed on Monday, 237 on Tuesday, and 222 yesterday.
The second highest number of appeals was filed ahead of the 2008 polls when 300 of the 557 rejected appealed, EC officials said.
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir yesterday requested the EC in a letter to quickly dispose of the appeals so that the parties could finalise their candidates.
The EC Secretary said, "We have explained to them that it would take three days to dispose of the huge number of appeals. They are convinced."
EC Additional Secretary Mokhlesur Rahman said they were yet to decide whether journalists would be allowed in the hearings. It would be decided tomorrow, he added.
The BNP filed three appeals with the EC against the ROs' decision to reject Khaleda's nominations for Feni-1, Bogura-6 and Bogura-7.
Her conviction in two corruption cases were shown as the reason by the ROs.
A six-member team of the BNP, led by the party's law affairs secretary Kaiser Kamal, submitted the petitions to the EC yesterday.
Kaiser later told reporters that Khaleda would be a candidate if the commission made a fair decision. Without Khaleda, the general election would become a farce, he claimed.
Khaleda's nomination rejections are illegal as appeals against her sentencing are pending with courts, he said.
MENON AGAINST ABBAS
Workers Party of Bangladesh President Rashed Khan Menon yesterday filed an appeal challenging the acceptance of BNP leader Mirza Abbas's nomination for Dhaka-8. Menon alleged that Abbas concealed information in his affidavit submitted to the RO.