Make names public
Eminent citizens yesterday suggested the search committee disclose the names of its picks for the Chief Election Commissioner and other commissioners before sending the nominations to the president.
They also suggested all the names submitted by political parties, individuals, and various professional bodies for the appointments be made public.
Former bureaucrats, teachers, media personalities, lawyers, and business leaders gave their suggestions to the committee at meetings held at the Supreme Court Judges Lounge in two phases.
The eminent personalities later said the meetings were cordial and that they were assured the names would be revealed.
Briefing the media afterwards, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam said the search panel received a total of 329 names. Of them, 136 names were proposed by political parties, 40 by professional bodies, and 34 by individuals.
After its formation on February 5, the committee held its first meeting the following day and sought names for the EC appointments.
The panel also invited some 60 eminent citizens of the country for their suggestions and proposals on the appointments.
Twenty-five of them participated in the meetings yesterday. The committee will meet other eminent personalities at 4:00pm today at the same venue.
The tenure of the current EC, led by CEC KM Nurul Huda, expires tomorrow.
During the meetings yesterday, the invitees told the panel it should disclose the names of its nominees before forwarding them to the president. Making the names public will allow general people to give their feedback and it will ensure transparency in the entire process, they said.
Former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder said they suggested the panel not to nominate anyone who took any sort of benefit from any government.
"Many supported this suggestion."
Dhaka University's Prof Asif Nazrul said, "We have emphasised on the do's and dont's of the selection process.
"Those who received unfair benefits and 'extra facilities', got undue promotions and contractual appointments under any government should be considered to be loyal to certain parties. So, they should be considered ineligible for the [EC] appointments."
He said those openly siding with a political party should also be excluded from the list of the panel's nominees.
"If the names chosen by the search committee are made public, people will be able to raise objections against any candidate, if they have any."
Ensuring transparency in the process will help form a strong and neutral EC, he also said.
Prof Mahfuza Khanam, president of Asiatic Society of Bangladesh, said the nominees should be honest and pro-liberation.
Prof ASM Maksud Kamal, Dhaka University's pro-VC (academic), said they proposed that the committee forward a shortlist of 20 people to the president, instead of 10.
Munira Khan, president of the Fair Election Monitoring Alliance, suggested there be more than one female member in the EC.
Mozammel Babu, editor-in-chief of Ekattor Television, said it was tough to reach a 100 percent consensus on the matter as a large political party (the BNP) is not participating.
"Therefore, this search committee has an additional responsibility. The names of those to be nominated should be published in the media. It will allow people to give their views on the nominees. They [the search panel] said they will consider it.
"We also proposed that the search committee nominate one or two persons from the media since they observe elections and the electoral process very closely."
Bhorer Kagoj Editor Shyamal Dutta said since women and members from ethnic and religious minority communities are the worst victims of polls violence, their representation in the EC must be ensured.
Gonoshasthaya Kendra founder Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury suggested the search panel take initiatives to include parties like the BNP and CPB, who did not submit any names, in the process.
He said although the BNP was trying to oust this incumbent government through a movement, it could still send its nominations.
Zafrullah also said he proposed names for EC appointments and that all the names submitted in this regard should be published in the media.
Samakal Publisher AK Azad, president of the Newspaper Owners' Association of Bangladesh, said they suggested the panel nominate those whose credibility was never questioned.
"All the names received by the search committee should be published in the media. The 10 names to be forwarded to the president should also be made public. They [search committee] assured us either of the two lists of the names will be disclosed."
The six-member search committee was formed under the "Appointments of the Chief Election Commissioner and Other Election Commissioners Act-2022."
The Cabinet Division is giving secretarial support to the panel, which has to propose 10 names to the president by February 24. The president will finally pick five for the EC posts, according to the law.