The much-talked-about bill -- "Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (EC) 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 Huq placed draft law and it was sent to the scrutiny committee for further examination. The committee was asked to submit its report within seven days.
As per the proposed law, a search committee will be formed taking approval from the president over the constitution of the EC.
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 the five-year tenure of the incumbent EC, 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 (at least 50-years-old), 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 the International Crimes 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 who once held the post of CEC or the Chief Justice, they 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 (CJ), will be the head of the six-member search committee.
The five other members will be a justice of the High Court (HC) Division nominated by CJ, the comptroller and auditor general, the chairman of the Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC), two other personalities nominated by the president.
Though the constitution suggests the appointment of the CEC and other election commissioners under a particular law, no bill was not formulated in the past.
Article 118 (1) of the Constitution of Bangladesh states, "There shall be an EC for Bangladesh consisting of 1 [the CEC and not more than four election commissioners] and the appointment of the CEC and other election commissioners (if any) shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf, be made by the president."
What was 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 20 December last to discuss the issues related to the constitution of the EC ahead of the 12th general polls to be held at the end of 2023 or 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 14 February.
The cabinet approved the draft of appointing CEC and other election commissioners on 17 January -- the day the ruling Awami League, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, held a dialogue with President Abdul Hamid at the Bangabhaban on EC formation.