A total of 134 polling officials will face departmental action for the reported irregularities and negligence in duties during the Gaibandha-5 by-polls, says Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal.
The Gaibandha Additional Deputy Commissioner (general), an executive magistrate, 126 presiding officers, and five sub-inspectors (SI) of police are among those who will face the music.
Of them, the EC has recommended the suspension of a presiding officer for two months.
"However, the commission did not find any complaints of irregularities against the Gaibandha DC, SP, and participating candidates. We, thus, did not recommend any steps against them," he said, addressing the press at the Nirbachan Bhaban in Agargaon of Dhaka on Thursday.
The CEC said except the returning officer, the respective employing authorities will take departmental action against their officials for their negligence in duties during the by-poll and will inform the EC within one month.
There was an allegation that the Gaibandha Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of police did not respond to Election Commission orders during the by-polls, even though they were asked to restore order in polling booths.
Queried about it, the CEC said, "During investigation, we did not find their involvement in irregularities. The law and order situation outside the polling centres was good."
A new polling date for the Gaibandha by-election will be announced next week, he said.
The commission suspended the by-polls on Election Day (12 October) following several reports of irregularities and vote rigging.
Habibul Awal said the list of people involved in irregularities will be sent to the respective employing authorities as per section-5 of the Election Officers (Special Law) Act, 1991. According to Public Service Act 2018, the employing authority can punish any employee convicted, with the minimum penalty of rebuke and removal from service as a major penalty.
In consideration of the offence, the appointing authority may impose any penalty including suspension of promotion for a specified period, demotion in pay scale, realising compensation in case of loss of public money or property due to negligence in duties, forced retirement, and removal from service.
"The list of polling officials of all the polling centres remains in packets sealed by the presiding officers. After those are unpacked, the district election officer will make a list of polling officials involved in irregularities. Those individuals will be barred from discharging duties in any other election in the future," the CEC added.
People who discharged their duties as agents of candidates will be identified in future and action will be taken against them accordingly, he also said.
It also extended the deadline by three months till 20 January 2023, for holding any fresh by-election to the Gaibandha-5 parliamentary seat.
Following the death of Gaibandha-5 lawmaker and Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Fazle Rabbi Miah, on 22 July 2022, it became a constitutional obligation to hold an election for the parliamentary seat by 20 October this year.