Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami’s proposal on structuring and strengthening Election Commission
Ameer of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami Maqbul Ahmad has placed the following recommendations to resolve the ongoing political deadlock in Bangladesh, to formulate the new Election Commission, to strengthen the electoral body and also to ensure fairness of the interim government during the election. In his proposals, Jamaat Ameer stated that according to the constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, this nation is free, independent and sovereign state. Democracy is one of the fundamental pillars for administering this country. Democracy is also the prime catalyst to ensure the good governance, development, progress and stability. The citizens can secure their rights through democratic practices. Whilst, the process of election is an inevitable part of the democratic system. Peoples can elect their representatives by casting their votes in the electoral procedure. Election reflects public view; it is also the only legitimate system for altering the government.
Article 118-126 of the Bangladeshi constitution prescribes directions and guidelines for conducting the entire election process, constructing election commission and fixing its capacity and working peripheries.
The current political stalemate has been created in Bangladesh due to the explicit failure of the election commission in holding free, fair, credible and participatory election. To get rid of this crisis, it has become important to introduce a permanent system for holding a free, fair and credible election by the election commission under the management of an election-time interim or non-party caretaker government.
Under the circumstances, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami is placing the following proposals in order to hold free, fair, credible and participatory elections for the sake of safeguarding national independence and freedom and to uphold people’s due rights and also to meet mass expectations.
Proposals: As the people of Bangladesh are eagerly waiting to see all the state apparatus including the election commission as fair and justifiable bodies, so it is necessary to build a strong election commission as per the rules and directives mentioned in the article 118-126 of the constitution.
To facilitate the process, it is a must to formulate an acceptable selection committee which is competent to act freely and sincerely on the basis of national consensus.
This selection committee endorsed election commission should be allowed to do everything it requires for holding a free, fair and credible polls. At the same time, to ensure smooth functions of the election commissions an interim or non-party caretaker government should be established for the election period.
For building a national consensus, a dialogue should be carried out among all the political parties which had parliamentary representatives ever. The dialogue should be continued till a national consensus is made.
The proposals in regards to the formation of the selection committee, structuring and strengthening election commission and the national dialogue are as follows:
Formation of Selection Committee: The honorable President would build a selection committee based on the consensus between all the political parties which had representation in the parliament since the first session to the latest one.
The forms and aspects of the Selection Committee: The honorable President will build a selection committee comprising 7 distinguished members who are honest, fair, experienced, sensible and moralistic. The structure of the selection committee would be as follows:
The selection committee would be headed by a retired and capable former chief justice (According to the seniority), who is not controversial and who was never assigned to any profitable office since his retirement.
Members of the Selection Committee would be: Former retired judge of the Appellate Division who is not controversial and who was not assigned to any profitable office since his retirement.
A retired secretary of non-party attitude who was not assigned to any profitable office since his retirement.
A retired University Professor, who is widely renowned as academician and was not assigned to any profitable office since his retirement.
A senior lawyer of Bangladesh Supreme Court or a retired election commissioner or a fair and respectable member of the civil society.
Two widely respected fair, honest, skilled and senior women.
Formation of Election Commission: Election Commission will be formed with Chief election commissioner, 4 election commissioners and two female elections commissioners.
Qualifications of the Chief Election Commissioner and other commissioners:
Qualification of the Chief Election Commissioner: A respected, honest, talent, courageous, prudent, moral and experienced person who is apparent to be non-partisan and uncontroversial will be the chief election commissioner.
A person who has discharged as the head of a constitutional body or a retired secretary of the Bangladesh government who was not assigned to any profitable office since his retirement or a retired but capable former election commissioner or a distinguished citizen would be appointed as the Chief Election Commissioner.
Qualification of the Election Commissioner: 4 persons who are respected, honest, talent, courageous, prudent, moral and experienced person who are apparent to be non-partisan and uncontroversial will be the election commissioner. Two women with same above mentioned qualities will be appointed as the election commissioner as well.
At least retired judicial officer (designated as similar to district judge, senior government service holder (joint secretary level), a military officer ( at least Brigadier general level), senior lawyer of the Supreme Court, experienced academician and distinguished citizens can be considered for the office of the election commissioner.
But the persons, after the retirement who did not pass 3 years after his retirement/expulsion/ completion of work agreement from the government service or defense services will not be considered for the office of the election commissioner.
Formation of Election Commission and its reinforcement:
Necessary amendments must be brought for the inclusion of following issues to the existing RPOs a) Deployment of defense forces and issuing magistracy power on their behalf
b) Prior to the casting votes, after the completion of the empty ballot boxes if there is any empty box, that should be kept in such a place which is visible to the polling agents
c) During vote casting, when the ballot boxes will filled up with ballots, should be kept in such a booth which is visible to the concerned assistant presiding officer and polling agents
d) After voting out, only the used ballot boxes will be opened for counting.
e) It must be ensured so that no one can leave the poll centers without handing over the presiding officer signed result sheet to the polling agents.
A separate secretariat should be formed for the election commission and the election commission secretariat should have financial freedom. According to this proposal, fairness of the Election commission officials both working in the field and the secretariat as well as the presiding officers must be ensured. The officials who had worked in the previous occasions, their political identity and loyalty must be identified. The officials who had violated electoral rules earlier they should be kept away from the upcoming election process. Initiatives should be taken so that significant ministries including public administration, Home, Finance and Information Ministry can act as per the decision of the election commission during the election. Since the day of declaration of election schedule to the takeover of office by the new government, all sorts of administrative transfer and appointment would be controlled by the election commission. To hold a free, fair and credible election, new appointment should be ensured at all administrative levels after the declaration of the poll schedule. Any DC of Police Superintendent cannot be appointed in the same district in which they had worked in the previous 5 years. Besides, same sort of principles should be maintained while transferring and posting officials at the Thana level as well. The electoral area for the national election must be demarcated. The newly formed election commission will conduct hearing in regards to area demarcation and take action lawfully. The military forces must be deployed in the election area during the polls. The defense members should be deployed with magistracy power and they should be allowed to inspect the poll centers and sensitive area. This arrangements are needed to be taken 10 days before the date of declaration of election schedule and it is to be continued till the publication of poll results as gazette. The voter lists should be updated and new voters should be registered and included. The rights to cast votes must be ensured for the expatriates and political activists. Polling agents must be present at the occasion of counting votes. No gap should be allowed between the end of voting and the counting of votes. The officials of the election commission are needed to be enforced with magistracy power. According to the electoral laws of 1972, this magistracy power is a due right of the election officials. Highly improved training program must be arranged for the officials who are working now under the election commission. Election Commission should also arrange training programs for the grassroots and local level political activists. The capacity of the training institutions under the election commission must be bolstered. Immediate actions should be taken for violating electoral rules and regulations and that punishment should be made public. The updated voter lists, which remains under the custody of the election officials that must be supplied to all the candidates or their agents at the day of selecting the candidatures. It must be ensured so that the enlisted voters can cast their votes smoothly. Election observing agencies must be registered at least two years before the declaration of the election schedule. While, observer or similar agencies must be registered one month before the Election Day schedule declaration. 7 days before the election, the name of the national and local poll observers, their identity or their appointed observers or concerned international forums or their observers must be disclosed.
Poll time government and national dialogue:
The political parties which had parliamentary representations ever during their dialogue with the President should place their selective names for the post of chief election commissioner and others election commissioners. They should submit two names for one posts.
The honorable President will hold dialogue with those political parties which had representations in the parliament ever. He will continue this dialogue till a consensus is made.
Poll time government:
At current context, a simple fair election commission is not enough to hold free, fair, credible and participatory election. It is obligatory to provide absolute logistic support to the election commission and also to ensure the cooperation of the defense forces.
So to facilitate the fair election and to strengthen the election commission, it is recommended to have a fair and non-party government during the election. So immediate after the formation of the election commission, an outline of the poll-time government or non-party caretaker government must be placed.
Allah Hafez, Long live Bangladesh, Long live Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.