The Election Commission is considering to hold by-election to the Laxmipur-2 constituency -- of Mohammad Shahid Islam, also known as Kazi Papul -- amid Covid-19 pandemic for constitutional obligation.
The election commissioners will sit in a meeting today to discuss the issue of by-elections to three others constituencies, polls to 371 union parishads (UPs) in the first phase and voting to 11 municipalities in the sixth phase of the staggered elections.
"The commission will hold a meeting on Wednesday on by-polls and union parishad elections that were postponed due to a steep rise in coronavirus infections," EC additional secretary Ashok Kumar Debnath told The Daily Star.
According to the constitution, by-elections to fill the vacant seat of a member of parliament should be held within 90 days. Provided that in a case where, in the opinion of the chief election commissioner, it is not possible, for reasons of an act of God, to hold such election within 90 days period, such election shall be held within ninety days following next after the last day of such period, reads the constitution.
On February 22, parliament secretariat issued a gazette notification announcing that Laxmipur-2 constituency fell vacant because of Kazi Papul's moral turpitude. The gazette has been in effect since January 28 when Papul was sentenced to four years of rigorous imprisonment by a Kuwait court.
"So in that account, elections to Laxmipur-2 constituency shall be held within July. We are thinking about holding the polls. The election will be held strictly following the health directives to prevent the spread of coronavirus. No public meeting and door-to-door campaign will be allowed during electioneering," said a top EC official.
The official said polling personnel must wear gloves and masks while issuing ballot papers, hand sanitizer for voters before entering the polling booths must be ensured, and physical distancing will be maintained.
The official said holding an election amid pandemic will not be difficult as the commission already held Chattogram City Corporation polls, several by-elections to parliamentary seats, and five phases of municipal elections.
On March 3, the EC announced the schedule of by-polls to the Laxmipur-2 constituency, polls to 371 union parishads and 11 municipalities slating the election date for April 11. On April 1, the commission postponed all the elections due to deterioration of Covid-19 situation.
A top EC official said the matter of holding by-elections to three others constituencies -- Sylhet-3, Dhaka-14 and Cumilla-5 -- will be discussed at the meeting.
Sylhet-3 seat fell vacant following ruling Awami League MP Mahmud Us Samad Chowdhury's death on March 11, Dhaka-14 following AL MP Aslamul Hoque's death on April 4, and Cumilla-5 for AL MP Abdul Matin Khasru's death on April 14.