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Strikethroughs, white-outs led to scrapped nominations

  • Published at 01:48 am December 6th, 2018
Web_appeal files_Mehedi Hasan
Stack of appeal files piled at the Election Commission headquarters in Dhaka's Agargaon on Wednesday Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

Returning officers rejected nomination papers of 141 BNP nominees, among a total of 786

Candidates whose nominations were cancelled are saying returning officers used any excuse to cancel their papers, including corrections using strikethroughs and white-outs.

Returning officers rejected nomination papers of 141 BNP nominees, among a total of 786.

According to lists sent by returning officers to the Election Commission, BNP nominee for Brahmanbaria 6 Mohammad Ziauddin had his nomination cancelled. The returning officer’s note said it was cancelled because there were strikethroughs in his nomination from the political party.

Four BNP candidates had submitted nominations in this constituency. Mehedi Hasan is the only candidate whose nomination was declared valid. The other two, Abdul Khalek and Rafiqul Islam Sikder had their nominations cancelled – Khalek for hiding the fact that he is charged in a criminal case and Rafiqul for not submitting income tax returns.

Of the 10 people who submitted nominations in this seat, Awami League candidate AB Tajul Islam MP, Communist Party of Bangladesh candidate Syed Mohammad Jamal, and Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB) candidate Rezwan Islam Khan had their nominations validated.

On the other hand Jatiya Party nominee Jesmin Noor Baby was rejected for not notarizing her affidavit and not adding a Tk200 non-judicial stamp, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal’s (JSD) KM Jabir for submitting a photocopy of income tax return and independent Kabir Hossain for not submitting signatures from 1% of voters.

On Tangail 8 seat, IAB nominee Abdul Latif Mia’s nomination was rejected for using white-out to write his name and seat number.

On November 10 the Election Commission issued a circular instructing returning officers nto to cancel nomination papers for minor errors.

“If during scrutiny an error is spotted that can be rectified immediately, the nomination aspirant has to be asked to make that correction,” the circular said.

Despite this instruction, nominations were rejected for reasons such as not signing the nomination paper or adding a fingerprint, not adding a stamp, not submitting educational certificates or income tax returns.

Asked about these decisions, Election Commission officials said the returning officers were at fault for making these calls. They could not tell why the returning officers had not done as instructed and ask nominees to correct minor errors.

These issues would not stand in appeal and the returning officer’s decisions would be overturned, the officials said.

They said that the returning officers’ failure to follow the commission’s instructions properly had resulted in nominations getting rejected for trivial reasons in the 10th general elections.

Election Commission Joint Secretary Farhad Ahmmed Khan told the Dhaka Tribune that these minor errors can be corrected.

“If the commission wants it can give these candidates a chance. It can ask returning officers to correct these errors,” he said.

At the end of the last day to submit appeals on Wednesday, 222 candidates had filed appeals to the Election Commission to overturn their rejections.

Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar has said that each appeal will be considered on its merit and there will be no partiality in this matter.