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42 citizens call for Supreme Judicial Council to probe graft allegations against EC

  • Published at 04:15 pm December 19th, 2020
the Election Commission
File photo of Election Commission building Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

They also asked to have a meeting with the president over the issue

Forty-two prominent citizens have asked President Adbul Hamid to form a Supreme Judicial Council to probe complaints of misconduct, including financial irregularities and graft, against the Election Commission headed by KM Nurul Huda. 

On December 14, Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik sent a letter to the president’s office over the matter, which was presented at a virtual press conference on Saturday.

The letter says, the members of the Huda-led Commission have been involved in many serious misconducts and corruption since they took office in February 2017. 

They have been associated with serious financial corruption and irregularities, which is a serious offence, it said.

In the letter, the citizens also asked for a meeting with the president over the issue.

Professor Serajul Islam Choudhury, retired bureaucrat and former caretaker government adviser Akbar Ali Khan, retired civil servant M Hafizuddin Khan, former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder, rights activist Hamdia Hossain, were among those who signed the letter.

The letter also said the irregularities include corruption, financial misconduct like charging Tk2 crore for giving speeches as special speakers and taking Tk4.08 crore for the recruitment process of Election Commission employees. 

Citing a report published in Bangla daily Prothom Alo on August 6, 2019, the letter said the chief election commissioner and commissioners did not give speeches for election training but collected more than Tk2 crore for the task. 

On November 25, 2019, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder alleged that the chief election commissioner is involved in financial misconduct. 

Talukder claims about Tk4.8 crore was given to a faculty member of Dhaka University, to prepare question papers for and examine the answer sheets of the election commission recruitment exams. This money was approved by the chief election commissioner, but the election commission does not have any documents on how the money was disbursed to the examiners. 

The letter also pointed out that three election commissioners used three vehicles each illegally, there were irregularities in purchasing and use of electronic voting machines, serious misconduct and irregularities in the 11th Parliamentary Election and elections in Dhaka (North and South) City Corporations, Khulna City Corporation, and Gazipur City Corporation.

Citing a report published in Bangla daily Bangladesh Protidin on October 3, 2020, the letter said the CEC and the election commissioners can use two vehicles, but they did not return their old cars even after receiving a new one in July. 

Regarding EVMs, the letter said the machines are losing credibility worldwide. Only

four countries are using EVMs in general elections, but the Bangladesh Election Commission decided to use EVMs anyway. 

Furthermore, Bangladesh spent 11 times more to buy EVMs compared to India, the letter added. 

Citing news reports from different news organizations and watchdog organizations, the letter also claimed there were complaints of ballot theft, electoral fraud and violence at polling booths, but the election commission denied receiving any complaints.  

Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (SHUJAN) Secretary Badiul Alam Majumder said at the press  conference: “Election Commission is not a post office where people will come and post their complaints in a letter box. The organizations should keep an eye on irregularities happening during elections and take action immediately.”

At the press conference, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said the election commissioners and others associated with the corruption should step back from their post until the allegations are properly investigated.

Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik said: “We did our part as citizens of this country to raise voice against the Election Commission’s corruption. Now, the people in power need to act.”

The letter was signed by Dhaka University Professor Emeritus Serajul Islam Chowdhury, former caretaker government advisers M Hafizuddin Khan,  Akbar Ali Khan, Advocate Sultana Kamal, Rasheda K Chowdhury, human rights activist Hamida Hossain, former cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder, economist Prof Moinul Islam, human rights activist Khushi Kabir, Central Women's University Vice Chancellor Professor Parveen Hasan, Sujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumder, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman, former professor of Dhaka University Ahmed Kamal, local government expert Professor Tofail Ahmed, Supreme Court lawyers ZI Khan Panna, Dr Shahdeen Malik, photojournalist Shahidul Alam, Jahangirnagar University Professor Anu Muhammad, economist Ahsan Mansoor, former secretary Abdul Latif Mandal, architect Mobasher Hossain, Executive Director of the Association for Land Reform and Development Shamsul Huda, academician Prof CR Abrar, Supreme Court lawyer Barrister Sara Hossain, environmental lawyer Syeda Rizwana Hasan, Dhaka University Professor Asif Nazrul,  Professor Rehnuma Ahmed, Sadhana Artistic Director Lubna Mariam, former Dhaka University professor Akmal Hossain, SOAS University of London Professor Swapan Adnan, Brati's Chief Executive Officer Sharminur, Professor Geetiara Nasrin, BRAC University Professor Firdaus Azim, former banker Syed Abu Naser Bakhtiyar Ahmed, senior journalist Abu Saeed Khan, Golam Mortuza, Dhaka University Professors Robayet Ferdous, andProf Shahnaz Huda, Supreme Court Advocate Jyotirmoy Barua, Director of Clinical Neuroscience Center, Bangladesh Disability Foundation Professor Nayla Zaman Khan, Chief Executive of Nagorik Uddyog Zakir Hossain and human rights activist Nur Khan Liton.

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