EC appointments under law to avoid controversy
The Election Commission (EC) will send a proposal to the new government to enact a law on appointment of chief election commissioner (CC) and election commissioners to end the long-standing controversy over formation of the EC, an election commissioner said yesterday.
If the law is made as proposed, a high-level search committee and the Business Advisory Committee (Bac) of the Jatiya Sangsad (JS) will find out efficient and neutral persons for the jobs in the constitutional body.
Sources noted that this would block the way for the government to constitute the EC unilaterally.
“We will send the proposal (for a law) to the newly elected government immediately after the ninth parliament goes into inaugural session,” Election Commissioner Muhammed Sohul Hussain told reporters yesterday.
None of the successive governments in the 36 years enacted such a law although the country's constitution provided for this. And all these governments constituted the EC by appointing persons of their choice unilaterally without considering qualifications or competence of the appointees.
In most cases, this triggered widespread controversies as the opposition parties, which were never consulted in this regard, rejected the appointments.
Meanwhile, the EC already drafted a law specifying qualifications and disqualifications for appointment as the CEC, and two election commissioners with one of them a woman. It had sent the draft law to the immediate past caretaker government to make it law through promulgation of ordinance.
“The caretaker government however left the task for the elected government,” Sohul said.
As per the draft law, the search body will consist of a High Court judge nominated by the chief justice, chiefs of the Anti-Corruption Commission and Public Service Commission, and the comptroller and auditor general. Outgoing CEC would head the search body.
This body will prepare a panel consisting of three names against each vacant post and forward it to the Prime Minister's Office for consideration of the Bac, which is the top JS body.
The prime minister, who is also leader of the House, and leader of the opposition and senior ministers or senior leaders of political parties represented in the JS are members of the Bac.
Examining the panel, the Bac headed by the speaker will finalise it, and the president will then appoint the CEC and election commissioners from the final list.
The EC believes that this would end any controversies centring constitution of the EC.
The draft law emphasised administrative efficiency, honesty and neutrality as essential qualifications for an individual to be appointed as CEC or election commissioner.
An individual will be disqualified for appointment to these posts if he/she is an active member of a political party or if he/she expressed desire to become a parliamentary contender on a political party's nomination, and if he/she is aged over 65 years.