The search committee, mandated to propose candidates for the posts of chief and other election commissioners for the next Election Commission (EC), has finalised 10 names on Tuesday in its seventh meeting at the Judges' Lounge of the Supreme Court.
The nominations, which the committee did not publish despite repeated calls from eminent citizens, will be proposed to President Abdul Hamid for his review on Thursday, Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam told reporters after the nearly four-hour meeting.
He said the president will decide the next steps regarding the candidates.
The meeting, chaired by Chief Justice Obaidul Hasan, began at 4.30 in the afternoon to finalise the candidates out of a short-list of 13 people.
Other members of the committee – Justice SM Quddus Zaman, former election commissioner Muhammad Sohul Hossain, writer-professor Anwara Syed Haque, Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Muslim Chowdhury and Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Sohrab Hossain – also attended the meeting.
Meanwhile, replying to a query on the selection process, the cabinet secretary said, "It was determined by them [search committee]. I was not present during the procedure as I am not a member."
He also said the nominations are only known to the search committee members and they will submit the list to the president directly.
The final list of nominations for the post of chief election commissioner and other commissioners were selected through an elimination process from over 320 candidates.
Earlier on Sunday, the committee short-listed 13 names out of 20 in its sixth meeting.
Apart from the seven meetings among its members, the search committee also held four separate meetings with eminent citizens and journalists, many of whom repeatedly called for the list of candidates to be published.
Heeding their calls, the committee published the initial list of 322 candidates but refrained from publishing the final picks, saying it did not have the legal authority to do so.
As per the law, the committee will determine the work method, but it does not have the power to disclose the names, said Justice Obaidul Hassan, head of the committee, told journalists on Sunday.
"So, we will submit the list of final nominees to the president. If the president asks us to publish it, we will do that," he said.
The committee's decision has stirred criticism and bitter outbursts from eminent citizens, who attended the meeting at the invitation of the search committee.
Supreme Court Advocate Shahdeen Malik on the day told The Business Standard, "Looking at the situation, it seems we should not have gone to this meeting."
The jurist further said the search committee started its work with much transparency compared with the last two search committees. But if the proposed nominations on the final list are not disclosed, its transparency will be questioned.
Some even held the committee to its position of not having the legal power for disclosing the names.
Former election commissioner Brigadier General M Sakhawat Hossain said, "We disagree with the work method described in the EC formation law. There is no obligation for the search committee to disclose the final nominees as per the law. That is why the committee does not want to get into any hassle unnecessarily."
The initial list of 322 candidates included professors, judges, former secretaries and former military officers. However, there is no legal obligation that the search panel will have to finalise the list from there as the committee may also finalise the list at its own discretion.