The much-talked-about Bill, “Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Bill-2022”, was placed in parliament on Sunday as the government wants to have a law in this regard as per the Constitution.
Law Minister Anisul Haq placed draft law and it was sent to the scrutiny committee for further examination. The committee was asked to submit its report within 7 days.
As per the proposed law, a search committee will be formed taking approval from the President over the constitution of the Election Commission.
The search committee will recommend the names of suitable candidates before the President to appoint the CEC and other election commissioners,” the Bill says.
The move came just one month before the expiry of five-year tenure of incumbent Election Commission, led by CEC KM Nurul Huda, as it is going to complete its five-year term in mid-February.
Qualifications of CEC and election commissioners are: they must be Bangladeshi citizens with minimum 50 years of age, and have at least 20 years of work experience in important government, semi-government, private or judicial posts.
If a person is declared ‘insane’ by any court; has not been released from the jail after being declared as ‘bankruptcy’; acquires the citizenship of or affirms the allegiance to, a foreign country surrendering Bangladeshi citizenship; has been convicted for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude and sentenced to at least two-year imprisonment; convicted by international crime tribunal; and is disqualified for such posts by or under any law, he or she would not be eligible for the post of CEC and election commissioners.
A person once held the post of CEC or the Chief Justice, he or she would not be eligible for the post of the CEC. But if a person held the post of election commissioner, he or she might be considered for appointment to the CEC.
In order to give legal protection to the constitution of previous election commissions, it would be considered that these were made under this law, he said.
A justice of the Appellate Division, nominated by the Chief Justice, will be the head of the six-member search committee.
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, two other personalities nominated by the President.
Though the Constitution suggests the appointment of the CEC and other election commissioners under a law, the law was not formulated in the past.
The Article 118 (1) of the Constitution states, “There shall be an Election Commission for Bangladesh consisting of 1[the Chief Election Commissioner and not more than four Election Commissioners] and the appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (if any) shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf, be made by the President.”
What done in the past
In the past, the President appointed the CEC and commissioners in absence of the law.
The last two election commissions, headed by Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed and KM Nurul Huda, were constituted through search committees formed by the President following his dialogues with political parties.
The President picked the CEC and four election commissioners in 2012 and 2017 from the names suggested by the search committee.
This time, President Abdul Hamid also started a dialogue with registered political parties on December 20 last to discuss the issues related to the constitution of the Election Commission ahead of the 12th general election to be held at the end of 2023 or the early 2024.
According to Article 118 (1) of the Constitution, the Bill will be brought to give a legal shield to the appointments of the CEC and elections commissioners to form the EC.
The tenure of the incumbent KM Nurul Huda-led election commission will expire on February 14.
The cabinet approved the draft of appointing CEC and other election commissioners on January 17—the day the ruling Awami League led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina held dialogue with President Abdul Hamid at the Bangabhaban on formation of the next EC.