The search committee, mandated to propose candidates for the posts of chief and other election commissioners, will not disclose the names of possible nominees who will make it to the final list even though eminent citizens, political parties and other individuals demanded the final picks be made public.
As per the law, the committee will determine the work method, but it does not have the power to disclose the names, Justice Obaidul Hassan, head of the committee, told journalists following the sixth meeting of the committee on Sunday when they trimmed the proposed names down to 12 to 13 from 20.
"So, we will submit the list of final nominees to the President [Md Abdul Hamid]. If the president asks us to publish it, we will do that," Justice Obaidul said.
A number of eminent citizens, who attended the meeting at the invitation of the search committee, have demanded that the final list be made public.
Supreme Court Advocate Shahdeen Malik 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.
"I also fear that the next election commission will be biased and will repeat what the previous two did," he added.
Former election commissioner Brigadier General M Sakhawat Hossain said, "From the beginning, 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."
"Everybody knows how much power the president of our country has. So, there is no point in saying that the president will reveal these names."
In the meantime, Justice Obaidul Hassan said they will hold their last meeting on 22 February and finalise 10 names before submitting the list to the president on 24 February.
In Sunday's meeting, they could not finalise the 10 names but came close, he said.
"We are searching for the 10 candidates among the 12 to 13 names. I hope we will get 10 names," he said.
Earlier on Saturday, the committee prepared a list of 20 after scrutinising credentials of more than 300 names proposed for the EC formation.
"Our law stipulates that we must complete our activities within 15 working days," he said, adding, "We have calculated that our 15 working days will end on 26 February. Before that we are going to finish our activities by 22 February. And, will submit the final list to the president on the 24th."
Asked if any names other than those proposed by various political parties and organisations would be picked, he said, "We have that authority but we will not do."
The search panel, formed by the president, sat for discussion six times and had three meetings with eminent citizens. The committee also published more than 300 names of the potential candidates proposed by political parties and eminent citizens.
The proposed 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.
According to the EC law, the search committee will carry out its responsibilities with transparency and impartiality. They will propose to the President the names of two candidates for the post of chief election commissioner and eight candidates for the four posts of election commissioner, taking into account the qualifications, disqualifications, experience, skills and reputation required by law.