Election commissioners' appointments challenged

A Supreme Court lawyer has filed a writ petition with the High Court (HC), challenging the legality of the appointments of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and four other election commissioners, claiming that no specific rules were formulated for their appointment.

Advocate Md Delwar Hossain submitted the petition to the HC on Sunday afternoon, seeking its directive upon the government for cancelling the appointments of the election commissioners, including CEC KM Nurul Huda, and for constituting a fresh election commission.

In the petition, he also sought a stay on the process for holding the upcoming parliamentary election, scheduled for December 30.

Citing the petition, Delwar's lawyer Advocate Yousuf Ali told The Daily Star that as per article 118 of the constitution, a specific rule is supposed to be formulated for the appointment of the CEC and other commissioners at the Election Commission (EC). However, in violation of the constitution, no rules were framed for the appointment of the present election commissioners.

The lawyer also said an election commissioner needs to have the experience of performing duties independently as per the constitution, but the incumbent CEC has no past experience. Since the CEC was a bureaucrat and a government official, he did not perform any function independently.

And therefore, his appointment contradicts with the constitution, Advocate Yousuf Ali said.

Deputy Attorney General Ekramul Haque Tutul told this correspondent that the HC bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal may hold hearing on the writ petition next Sunday.

Earlier, on February 13 last year, another HC bench summarily rejected a writ petition filed by another SC lawyer, Advocate Eunus Ali Akond, challenging the legality of the formation of the EC.

The bench of Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque and Justice Mohammad Ullah rejected the petition, saying that the president has the authority to constitute the EC by appointing retired persons as per the constitution.

According to a gazette notification issued on February 6 last year, President Abdul Hamid appointed former secretary KM Nurul Huda as the CEC in line with a constitutional provision.

The president also appointed four election commissioners including the country's first ever woman election commissioner.