Despite the constitutional directive to formulate a law on the formation of the Election Commission, no law has been enacted in Bangladesh in 50 years. Political parties talk about the need for legislation before coming to power, and forget about legislation when they come to power. The issue of Election Commission Act has been stoned in the same way for so long. After all, Bangladesh Awami League is making laws while it is in power.
In the meantime, the cabinet meeting on January 18 approved the draft of ‘Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner Appointment Act, 2022’. Not only that, according to the statement of the law minister, the law will be passed in the current session of the parliament.
Earlier, the President had spoken to the registered political parties for their views. Almost all of the participating parties have spoken of enacting legislation to form an election commission. Which is also a directive of the constitution. In the past, the major political parties have repeatedly stated the need for a BNPO law. As a result, the law-making initiative at the moment can be considered as a unanimous decision.
According to the government, the next election commission will also be formed according to the new law. In this case, the demands of the political parties are accepted and the instructions of the constitution are followed. However, a few days ago, the law minister had said that it would not be possible to enact a law in such a short time. However, the current government will make laws while in power. The Awami League has quickly changed its decision, perhaps to respect the wishes of the political parties. Moreover, they have taken the issue of law making seriously before. Now they are saying that the next election commission will be formed on the basis of the new law.
Those who a few days ago were criticized for not enacting a law on the formation of the Election Commission, their tone began to change as soon as the law was enacted. The main opposition BNP leader Nazrul Islam Khan has compared the law approved in the cabinet with rotten kadur. It is being said that if there is a law to form Election Commission through conventional method search committee, it will be Thudo Jagannath Election Commission. It is noteworthy that for years the BNP has been sharply criticizing the Awami League’s approach to the formation of the Election Commission, but so far they have not been able to raise any proposal in public, which can be compared to the fact that it is not good.
In the meantime, the BNP’s response to the press conference has also been questioned. First of all, they have been demanding the Election Commission Act for a long time. Their demands have been voiced many times in rallies and on television talk shows. Why do they want to question the law-making initiative there? Yes, they can. But when they say that despite being included in the proposed law, the law does not have this opportunity, then what can be called their criticism.
Nazrul Islam Khan said in a press conference that there is no opportunity to keep private or legal experts in this law. Awami League leader Hasan Mahmud responded to this comment. He said the draft law states, “Anyone who has worked for 20 years in a government or judicial or semi-government or non-government position can be appointed as an election commissioner.” There is still an opportunity to add lawyers to the proposed law. He works privately. However, there are conditions that he must be engaged in his profession for 20 years or more. The BNP has complained that in this new law, there is no opportunity to be a lawyer. However, according to the draft law, the power to form a search committee has been given to the Chief Justice of the state. Not only that, a judge of the Appellate Division and a judge of the High Court have also been included in the formation of the search committee.
After the cabinet meeting approved the draft law, the cabinet secretary also clarified the details of the law in a press briefing. Even then, when it comes to questioning, it is their criticism that deserves criticism. However, they could have ruled out the possibility of an election commissioner losing his eligibility for the post again. If a qualified person is able to show his skills as an election commissioner, then it is a little difficult to understand where the obstacles are in the way of returning to the same post.
On the other hand, if they had given a specific proposal, it could have been discussed in Parliament. We have already seen many laws which have been de-addicted even after the approval of the Cabinet. The biggest thing is that all the parties have representatives in the parliament. They can raise specific proposals. But without taking any chances when they decide that the law is rotten then what else to say.
On the other hand, another statement of theirs is noteworthy. While criticizing the Election Commission Act, they have reiterated that they will not participate in any election under this government, then it should be understood that in fact they are sitting with ‘No’. It is their job not to say what the government will do. They do not want the progress of the country by adding dynamic thinking.
In criticizing the Election Commission Act, the BNP has repeatedly spoken of holding elections under a caretaker government. It is no longer possible according to the judgment of the High Court, it is not unknown to them. So where is the chance to say that the provision of caretaker government will be added as they want. Moreover, it is not clear what its relation is with the Election Commission Act.
It is not difficult to understand when they resort to criticism without making specific proposals. In fact, their purpose is to create controversy.