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Cabinet clears draft law on EC formation

Published : 17 Jan 2022 10:39 PM | Updated : 18 Jan 2022 12:54 PM

The Cabinet has approved the draft of the ‘Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner Appointment Act, 2022’ in order to have a law in this regard as per the Constitution.

The approval came from the Cabinet meeting held at the Cabinet Room of the Jatiya Sangsad in the capital on Monday (January 17) with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

“The final approval was given to a draft law over the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing reporters at the Bangladesh Secretariat after the meeting.

The Cabinet Secretary hoped that it would not take much time to make the proposed law an act.

According to the draft law, a search committee will be formed to appoint the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and other commissioners. The search committee will be formed after taking approval from the President, said the Cabinet Secretary.

According to him, “The search committee will recommend the names of suitable candidates to the President to appoint the CEC and other election commissioners.”

Explaining further about the search committee, the Cabinet Secretary said that a Justice of the Appellate Division, nominated by the Chief Justice, would be the head of the six-member 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.

The move came just one month before the expiry of the tenure of incumbent Election Commission, led by KM Nurul Huda, as it is going to fulfill its five years in office in mid-February.

Although the Constitution suggests the appointment of the CEC and other election commissioners under a law, the law has not been formulated till now.

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.”

In the past, the President appointed the CEC and other election commissioners in absence of the law.

The last two election commissions, headed by Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmed and KM Nurul Huda, were formed through search committee formed by the President following 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 held dialogue with registered political parties to discuss the issues related to the constitution of the Election Commission ahead of the 12 th general elections to be held at the end of 2023 or the early 2024.

Most of the political parties in dialogue with the President spoke for law in this regard.

Talking about the qualifications of CEC and election commissioners, the Cabinet Secretary said that they must be Bangladeshi citizens, be persons of at least 50 years old, and have at least a 20-year work experience in the important government, semi-government, private or judicial posts.

He also said that if a person held the post of CEC once 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.

Besides, the Cabinet cleared the drafts of three laws -- Jatiya Muktijoddha Council Act, 2022, Bangladesh Gas, Oil and Mineral Corporation Act, 2022 and Anti-Inequality Act, 2022 (Boishomya Birodhi Aiyen) — as well as the draft of National Salt Policy, 2022.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to take action against those who won’t follow the health rules following a sharp rise in the Covid-19 infection rate. The decision was taken at the Cabinet meeting.

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