EC formation: Make the names public
Names to be recommended by the search committee for appointments of the chief election commissioner and other commissioners should be made public for ensuring transparency in the process, eminent citizens told a webinar yesterday.
They also said a parliamentary standing committee should be engaged in the process before the president finally appoints the commissioners.
Shusashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan) organised the webinar on the "Appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Bill-2022" placed in parliament on Sunday.
The government move came nearly 50 years after the constitution prescribed enacting a specific law for forming the Election Commission.
Sources said the Awami League-led government wants to pass the bill as quickly as possible so that the upcoming Election Commission can be constituted through a search committee in line with the act. The tenure of the current EC, led by CEC KM Nurul Huda, expires next month.
At the discussion yesterday, former chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda said the search committee should be neutral and unbiased in recommending names for the EC appointments.
"The recommended names should be made public so that we can see the people's reaction to it," he said, adding that those with any sort of controversies should not be eligible for the appointments.
He pointed out an elaborate discussion on the crucial EC bill was required in parliament, but it has not taken place yet.
Both Shamsul and M Sakhawat Hussain, a former election commissioner, said a parliamentary standing committee should be engaged in the process to fill in the EC posts before the president makes the appointments.
Sakhawat said the search committee can forward the names to the JS body.
He said a previous EC, led by Shamsul Huda,had prepared a draft law on the appointments and proposed that the search committee recommended names be sent to the Business Advisory Committee of parliament for scrutiny.
"The proposed names should be discussed at meetings of the Business Advisory Committee. The prime minister, who is the leader of parliament, and the leader of opposition are members of that committee."
He said the election commissioners should be neutral and they must be capable of ensuring enforcement of law.
Shujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar alleged that the proposed law has scopes for the governmentto form the search committee with people of its choice. "There is also scope of appointing election commissioners who will be obedient to the government.
"The recommended names should be revealed to the people for ensuring transparency in the process. Democracy dies in darkness," he said, while presenting a key note paper.
Moderating the webinar, Prof Rounaq Jahan, distinguished fellow at the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), said political consensus and transparency were two key issues in the appointments.
Dhaka University Professor Asif Nazrul said the proposed law was being enacted as per the government's wish. "Without ensuring government's neutrality and only by formulating a law, it is not possible to hold fair elections."
Shujan recommended that three lawmakers -- one from the ruling party, one from the opposition party, and the other from the party with the third highest-majority in parliament -- be included in the search committee.
It also proposed that the search committee publish a preliminary list of candidates for the EC posts through a website or a public notice and hold public hearings on the candidates.