Legal cover for past ECs is the mainstay

Bill placed; opposition parties say they didn’t want a law like this
Election Commission

Law Minister Anisul Huq yesterday placed a bill in parliament seeking to give a legal shield to the current and previous Election Commissions formed through search committees, amid opposition from a BNP lawmaker.

Once passed, the law will provide legal cover to all activities of the search committees.

Sources said the Awami League-led government wants to pass the bill in the  ongoing JS session so that the upcoming Election Commission can be constituted through a search committee in line with the act.

The tenure of the incumbent commission, led by CEC KM Nurul Huda, expires next month.

Ahead of the general elections in 2014 and 2018, the president picked CECs and other commissioners in 2012 and 2017 following recommendations by search committees.

After Anisul tabled the "Appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Bill-2022" around 11:25am yesterday, BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid opposed the move, saying it was nothing but an attempt to validate the two ECs "that destroyed the country's electoral system".

Demanding withdrawal of the bill, he also said, "The two Election Commissions must be brought to book."

The opposition, however, was muffled by a voice-vote since the AL holds an absolute majority in parliament. JP MPs remained silent.

The bill was later sent to the parliamentary standing committee on the law ministry for scrutiny. The committee was asked to submit its report before the House within seven days.

The government move came nearly 50 years after the constitution prescribed enacting a specific law for forming the EC.

Talking to The Daily Star later in the day, Jatiya Party and Workers Party leaders, who during a recent dialogue with President Abdul Hamid demanded a specific law for EC formation, said they wanted the law, but not like the one being framed.  

They said the proposed law has many limitations. 

Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon said the law should be enacted in a better manner after analysing its different aspects.

JP Chairman GM Quader said the law should be formulated in a way that is acceptable to all.

Both of them said they would submit proposals to amend the law.

The president held the dialogue with 25 registered political parties from December 20 to January 17 on formation of an EC ahead of the 12th general election slated to be held at the end of 2023 or in early 2024.


The bill says the previous search committees, their functions and the appointments of the CECs and other commissioners made following their recommendations will be deemed valid, and no question can be raised in any court over the matter.

It will be considered that the incumbent and previous ECs were constituted as per the law.

As per the proposed law, a search committee will be formed following the president's approval for forming the EC.

"The search committee will recommend names of candidates for the chief election commissioner and other commissioners to the president…" it said.

The committee will be headed by a judge of the Supreme Court's Appellate Division, to be nominated by the chief justice.

The five other members will be a justice of the High Court Division nominated by the chief justice, the Comptroller and Auditor General, the chairman of the Bangladesh Public Service Commission, and two other personalities nominated by the president.


BNP's Harun told parliament the proposed law did not fulfil expectations of the people, political parties and civil society platforms. 

"We have long been calling for enacting a law to strengthen the Election Commission. Various political parties and civil society platforms have already given their reaction on the issue. The BNP has termed the bill a mockery with people," he said.

He also said there was nothing new in the proposed law.

Backed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Law Minister Anisul rejected the allegation and claimed that no other country has a law for forming EC in such a transparent manner.

"If this bill is passed and the Election Commission is formed through it, the BNP will not be able to engage in vote rigging. This is why the party is so angry," he said.

He scrapped Harun's allegation that the proposed law aims to legalise all misdeeds of the Election commissions.

"They want to create a political issue. They want to wage movement over the matter," he said, adding, "The constitution says that a law should be made for the formation of the Election Commission. That is why we are formulating this law. Without even understanding, they are calling it a law for the search committee."


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