The Election Commission (EC) at a meeting on Monday proposed a reformation of the Representation of the Public Order, 1972 by excluding provisions that prohibit aspirants having a bad history in credits from contesting elections. But stakeholders – banks and utility companies – have said no to the proposal, according to participants at the meeting.
"We wanted to exclude credit history-related provisions; instead, we proposed considering ineligible those aspirants who are accused in loan or bill default-related lawsuits," Kazi Habibul Awal, chief election commissioner, told the media after the meeting at the EC office in the capital.
"Stakeholders have not been comfortable with our proposal; they rather preferred the existing provisions." The commission will decide later on the issue, he added.
According to the current provisions, loan defaulters – reported by the Credit Information Bureau (CIB) of the central bank – and utility bill defaulters are ineligible for taking part in any election.
"Contesting in elections is a fundamental right. We thought differently so that those who are not real [intentional] defaulters can practise their rights. In the existing provisions, many who are not intentional defaulters can be identified as ineligible," Habibul Awal said, adding that considering utility bill defaulters was an exaggeration.
Altogether 14 participants representing banks, utility agencies, finance ministry, law ministry and Dhaka University law faculty attended the programme organised to discuss the revision of the RPO.
"We urged the commission to continue to prioritise CIB reports. They can also include a provision about the accused in cases," said Dewan Ruhul Ahsan, general manager of Pubali Bank.
"We have no objection to the inclusion of provisions for considering the accused as defaulters, but the CIB has reported that defaulters must be considered as loan defaulters by the commission," he told reporters after the meeting.
Meanwhile Dhaka Electric Supply Company Chief Engineer Md Rashidur Rahman said the DESC did not agree with the proposed provisions of filing cases to prove people as defaulters. "We opined in favour of the existing rules as filing cases against all bill defaulters is a big task for us."
"We have placed our opinions. The commission will make the final decision," he added. ***