Gazipur City Corporation: SC lifts stay; polls by June 28
Electioneering for the postponed prestigious battle of ballots in Gazipur City Corporation is now set to resume after the Eid-ul-Fitr with the voting to be held any day in the last week of next month.
As the Supreme Court yesterday lifted the stay on holding the polls, the Election Commission will sit on Sunday to rearrange the election schedule, said EC Secretary Helal Uddin Ahmed.
"The election will not be held on May 15. At Sunday's meeting, the Election Commission will decide the new date for the voting," he told reporters emerging from a brief EC meeting yesterday afternoon.
As per the schedule announced by the EC on March 31, the election was scheduled to be held on May 15. But a sudden three-month stay on the polls by a High Court bench, in response to a writ petition, forced the commission to postpone the election.
The SC stayed the HC order for an indefinite period. It also asked the EC to hold the polls by June 28 after Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda on Wednesday spoke about difficulties in holding the polls on May 15.
The month-long Ramadan is likely to begin on May 17. EC officials say they do not hold any major election during Ramadan. Therefore, election activities may resume after the Eid and candidates may have one week for electioneering before the voting, they say.
"In that case, we may set the polling day one or two days before the June 28 deadline given by the apex court," an election commissioner, wishing not to be named, told The Daily Star.
Meanwhile, the SC order yesterday brought an end to a legal battle. Voters, candidates and others concerned reacted positively to the development.
The EC and the candidates from the AL and the BNP -- front runner for the mayor's post -- had filed three appeals with the SC against the HC order that had postponed the polls just 10 days before the voting. The electioneering that began on April 24 was suspended as well.
"We won the legal battle and hope to win the battle of ballots too," Hasan Uddin Sarker, BNP's mayor candidate, told The Daily Star yesterday over the phone.
"Now, I am waiting for the new timeframe to begin my election campaign," he said.
His rival, AL candidate Jahangir Alam, said, “People blamed me for staying the election. It was a deep-rooted conspiracy against the polls.
“But everything was proven wrong. The court has given verdict in my favour. I was under a huge psychological pressure. Now, I am relieved.”
HEARING ON APPEALS
An AL leader in Savar upazila and chairman of Shimulia Union Parishad, Azharul Islam on May 6 filed a writ petition with the HC, challenging "the inclusion of six mouzas of his union in Gazipur city” and the polls schedule.
In response, the HC bench stayed the polls for three months and issued a rule asking the EC and the government to show cause why the inclusion of the six mouzas in the city and the polls schedule should not be declared illegal.
Yesterday, a four-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain, heard the three appeals filed against the HC order.
After the SC ruling staying the HC order, BNP mayor candidate's lawyer Zainul Abedin said the apex court mandated the EC to hold the polls by June 28.
"Now the EC can hold the election on May 15 or any other day within June 28 and the EC does not need to declare a fresh schedule,” he told The Daily Star.
The candidates who have already filed their nomination papers would contest the polls, he said.
During the hearing, the CJ asked whether there would be any problem if the election was held after Ramadan.
In response, Zainul said there would be many problems. Later, he prayed to the court to pass an order so that the election is held on May 15.
At this, the CJ said the chief election commissioner had reportedly said it would not be possible for the EC to hold the polls on that day.
He asked EC lawyer Obaidur Rahman Mostafa whether the commission was ready to hold the election.
The lawyer told the court that the EC was prepared for that but six days were lost due to the HC stay order.
He then said the commission would act to hold the polls in line with the apex court order.
Rokanuddin Mahmud, lawyer for writ petitioner Azharul, told the SC that the six mouzas of Shimulia union parishad had illegally been included in Gazipur city.
But lawyers of the three appellants rejected the claim and argued that Azharul's petition was filed on wrong grounds.
Following further hearing, the SC lifted the bar on holding the city corporation polls.