Law Minister Anisul Huq on Sunday (23 January) placed the "Appointment of Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners Bill-2022" in the Parliament.
The Cabinet on 17 January, approved the draft of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioner (EC) appointment act, aiming to formulate a law as per the constitution. If the Bill is passed, then a law would be enacted to form the next Election Commission.
From the search committee to its nominating candidates for the post of CEC and ECs, here is how the next election commission will be formed -
As per the proposed law, the President will form a six-member search committee; it will be presided over by a judge of the Appellate Division nominated by the Chief Justice (CJ). The search committee will be formed taking approval from the President over the constitution of the Election Commission.
The search committee will have five other members who are - justices of the High Court (HC) Division and would be nominated by the CJ, comptroller and auditor general, the chairman of the Bangladesh Public Service Commission (BPSC) and two others nominated by the President.
It will recommend the names of suitable candidates before the President to appoint the CEC and ECs, the Bill said, adding that the search committee will be able to solicit names from political parties and professional organisations while looking for candidates for the CEC and EC posts.
Who can be the CEC and ECs?
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."
The Bill stated that CEC and ECs 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, it added.
Someone who has once held the post of CEC or the Chief Justice, 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.
The proposed law would reinforce democracy: Law minister
"If the proposed Bill is passed and a law is enacted, then the appointment procedure of the CEC and ECs will be impartial and transparent," Law Minister Anisul Huq said.
He also hoped that it would reinforce democracy and the public interest would prevail.
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.
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.
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.
The tenure of the incumbent KM Nurul Huda-led election commission will expire on 14 February.