Making EC independent | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 04, 2007 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, December 04, 2007

Editorial

Making EC independent

We support it wholeheartedly

The council of advisers has asked the law ministry to further scrutinize the independent election commission secretariat draft ordinance-2007, the objective of which is to make the EC fully independent. We hope the law ministry will soon place a well formulated draft of the ordinance before the council of advisers, thus paving the way for the EC to emerge as a truly independent body, both structurally and functionally.
By all indications, the ordinance will ensure separation of the EC from the PMO or the present chief adviser's office, which of course will resolve to a great extent the problem of the commission being influenced by the government of the day. Such unwanted influence was no doubt the biggest obstacle in the way of conducting free and fair elections. It has also transpired that the EC will have complete control over its budget and the process of appointing its employees. This will ensure a neutral administrative set-up at the EC.
As for its accountability, we believe the EC should be answerable to the parliament through the standing committee on law and parliamentary affairs ministry.
However, the point that must not be missed here is that the EC's independence will primarily depend on the commitment of the political government of the day towards upholding it. The government will have to prove their neutrality and strict compliance with the rules of fair play in appointing the chief election commissioner and the commissioners. The CEC and his team members will have to be persons of integrity capable of resisting any interference from the government that might undermine the EC's independence.
Independence and functional autonomy of the EC are an essential prerequisite for making elections free and fair. Hindsight should pretty much convince us that it is an issue where there is absolutely no scope for any compromise.
The political parties which fought long-drawn battles in the past on holding of elections acceptable to all the stakeholders must have learnt by this time that the attempts at getting undue advantage as a ruling party, a charge they face so often, backfired when the electoral process lost its credibility through wrongful appointments of CEC and election commissioners.

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