Enact law to reconstitute EC, 53 eminent citizens urge govt
The term of the current Election Commission will end in February next year; therefore, the initiative to restructure the commission must begin immediately with the enactment of a law as per the constitution, said a statement signed by the country's 53 eminent citizens today.
"We urge the government to take urgent steps in this regard to enable the Election Commission to take the necessary lawful steps for conducting elections independently and without any external influence," the statement said.
"At the same time, we also urge the government to start thinking of reforms so the civil administration and the law enforcement agencies can impartially perform their duties during elections," it said.
Article 118 (1) of the Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh states, "There shall be an Election Commission for Bangladesh consisting of the chief election commissioner and not more than four election commissioners and the appointment of the CEC and other commissioners (if any) shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf, be made by the president," the statement mentioned.
Although the constitution explicitly mandates the appointments to the Election Commission "subject to the provisions of any law," no government has taken such an initiative in the last 50 years.
The proposed law must specify the qualifications of the chief election commissioner and other commissioners, and include a provision for the formation of a search committee with non-partisan individuals acceptable to all related stakeholders, the distinguished persons read.
To ensure transparency, the proposed law must include provisions for making public the names of individuals being considered for appointment to the Election Commission, holding public hearings, and publishing a report providing a rationale for recommending the individuals to the president for an appointment, it also said.
"We hope that the Ministry of Law will take the appropriate initiative in this regard. We, as citizens, stand ready to provide the necessary assistance through feedback," it said.
The signatories include – Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury, Barrister M Amir-ul Islam, educationist Dr Akbar Ali Khan, Shujan Secretary Dr Badiul Alam Majumdar, economist Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Dhaka University Professor Dr Asif Nazrul, Manusher Jonno Foundation Executive Director Shaheen Anam and Barrister Sara Hossain.