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EC on the go to hold fair polls

Show cause on 30 candidates; UNO, OC shakeup starts

Published : 03 Dec 2023 05:07 PM | Updated : 03 Dec 2023 05:07 PM

Alongside massive reshuffles in the local administrations and law-enforcement agencies, the Pre-election Judicial Enquiry Committee formed by the Election Commission (EC) has so far served notices to around 30 candidates, including four incumbent ministers and state ministers, to show cause for breaching the electoral code of conduct.

The recent moves of the EC show that the state body is taking all out measures to hold the 12th Jatiya Sangsad (JS) election slated for January 7, 2024 free and fair.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Enquiry Committees formed by the EC served show cause notices to around 30 candidates so far for their violations of electoral code of conduct since the last date of nomination paper submission on November 30.

The show-cause letters have been served to those candidates for allegedly taking out processions, holding rallies and even for assaulting journalists and issuing threats to them at some of the places.

EC sources said the highest number of show-cause letters have been served to the ruling party nominated candidates. 

Some of the candidates have already responded to show-cause notices stating reasons to the authorities concerned.

If the candidates fail to satisfy the EC authorities, punitive measures will be taken against them.

The candidates who have already been served show-cause notices include Textile and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi (Narayanganj-1), State Minister for Youth and Sports Zahid Hasan Russel in Gazipur, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Enamur Rahman in Savar, State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Junaid Ahmed Palak (Natore) Awami League candidate Raziuddin Ahmed Raju (Narsingdi-5), former State Minister for Women Children Affairs Meher Afroz Chumki, Cricketer Shakib Al Hasan (Magura) Jatiya Party Presidium Member Kazi Firoj Rashid (Dhaka-6), Jubo League leader Majibur Rahman Chowdhury Nixon (Faridpur-4), AL leader Mostafizur Rahman Chowdhury (Chattogram-16), AL leader Anwar Hossain Khan (Laxmipur-1), AL leader Nur Uddin Chowdhury Nayan (Laxmipur-2), AL leader Golam Faruq Pinku (Laxmipur-3), Jatiya Party leader Fazlur Rahman Misba (Sunamganj-4), AL leader Mahibur Rahman (Patuakhali-4), AL leader Tushar Kanti Mandal (Rangpur-3), AL leader Mrinal Kanti Das (Munshiganj-3), AL leader AHM Moktadir Chowdhury (Brahmanbaria-3), AL leader Shafiqul Islam Shimul (Natore-2), AL leader Kazim Uddin Ahmmed Dhanu (Mymensingh-11), Bangladesh Chhatra League Leader Ahsanul Islam Rimon in Mymensingh, Jatiya Party leader Md Yiahia Chowdhury (Sylhet-2) and AL leader Solaiman Huq (Chuadanga-1).

The EC earlier formed 300 Pre-electoral Judicial Enquiry Committees and assigned 802 Executive Magistrates to maintain Electoral Code of Conduct by the potential candidates in the field levels across the country.

The 802 Executive Magistrates will operate mobile courts till January 9, two days after the election, as the polls are scheduled to be held on January 7, 2024.

Besides, as part of multi-phased measures taken by the EC to ensure the JS polls free, fair and trouble free, over 7.5 lakh personnel from different law-enforcement and security agencies will be engaged across the country.

Moreover, a large contingent of Army personnel will also be deployed to check irregularities and violence centring the JS polls.

Officials of the EC (Management) said each of the Pre-Electoral Judicial Enquiry Committees has been formed led by a Joint District and Sessions Judge, who will be assisted by a Senior Assistant Judge and an Assistant Judge.

The pre-poll Judicial Enquiry Committees have been working like the Civil Courts. 

These courts are carrying out enquiries on their own. But, these courts have also been tasked to hold hearings if they receive allegations from any party or individual.

As per the schedule, the EC will scrutinise nomination forms from December 1-4, appeals against the nominations can be submitted from December 5-6 and nominations need to be withdrawn by December 17.

Meanwhile, in the latest move of the EC, Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of Sunamganj and Mymensingh have been transferred.

Besides, the process to reshuffle the Upazila Nirbahi Officers (UNOs) and the Officer-in-Charge (OCs) was on the way.

The EC official sources said that as per the decision to reshuffle the local administrations and law-enforcement agencies, the EC has decided to transfer all the UNOs and OCs.

Besides, a large number of DCs would also be transferred on the basis of reports collected from field level.

EC official sources said the EC authorities are taking all the necessary measures so that the electoral code of conduct is maintained, all the candidates feel safe and voters can apply their rights properly without any fear.

Ashok Kumar Debnath, Additional Secretary of the EC, on Saturday said, the decision to transfer all the UNOs and OCs of all police stations has been taken on the basis of field level information.

"The transfers are not expected to cause any disruptions," he said while talking to reporters at his office at EC headquarters in the capital’s Agargaon.

During the media briefing, the EC additional Secretary said 29 registered political parties have nominated 2,713 candidates for the upcoming national election.

He also informed that the EC is implementing measures to ensure the security of all candidates, including independent ones who have submitted their nomination forms.

Earlier on November 30, the EC asked the government to transfer all the UNOs and OCs across the country ahead of the 12th JS polls.

According to a letter sent to the Senior Secretary of the Public Security Division, all the OCs who have completed more than six months of service at their present workplace should be transferred in the first phase.

The commission has additionally dispatched another letter to the Ministry of Public Administration, with a recommendation on transferring UNOs who have served at their present workplace for over a year in the initial phase.

The letter states that the commission took the step aiming to conduct the upcoming parliamentary election in a free and fair manner.

It has also noted that proposals for the transfer of OCs and UNOs in the first phase should be submitted to the EC by December 5.