The decision was taken by Election Commission during an unscheduled meeting on Sunday
Upazila Parishad chairmen, vice chairmen, and reserved female vice chairpersons will be allowed to contest the upcoming Upazila Parishad election without resigning from their positions.
Aside from these public representatives, government officials will be allowed to contest the polls immediately after resigning or retiring from their post; instead of waiting for three years as stipulated by the Representation of the People Order (RPO), 1972.
According to the officials concerned, the decision was taken by the Election Commission during an unscheduled meeting on Sunday. Returning officers have also been verbally informed about the commission’s decision.
On Monday, the deadline for submitting nomination papers in 87 upazilas, for the first phase of the polls, ended.
However, many Upazila Parishad chairmen, vice chairmen, and reserved female vice chairpersons have already submitted their resignations, over concerns that their candidacies might have been cancelled.
They believe that the commission’s decision came too late, adding that it initially mentioned that resignation is necessary to contest the polls.
The Election Commission announced the schedule for first phase of the Upazila Parishad polls, in 87 upazilas, on February 3; and a second phase, in 129 upazilas, on February 7.
Responding to query, Election Commission Secretary Helal Uddin said: “We have discussed the issue of whether it is necessary for Upazila Parishad public representatives to resign to contest the upcoming polls. The existing law does not make resignation mandatory.
“We had some confusion regarding the matter. The High Court did not reference the Upazila Parishad chairmen positions as profitable. So, there are no regulations barring them from participating in the polls from their posts.”
Commission officials mentioned that the Upazila Parishad Act, 2009 bars people, who are serving in a position that can be considered profitable, from contesting the election.
However, the commission is not considering Upazila Parishad chairmen and vice chairmen positions as profitable. In 2013, the then-public representative of the upazilas contested the polls without giving up their posts.
Sources concerned added that the commission will not issue a gazette in this regard to avoid any legal complications in the future.
The RPO states that government officials must wait at least three years to contest the general election after their retirement. However, the act does not have any provisions for retired and resigned government officials seeking to participate in the Upazila Parishad polls.
Considering the above-mentioned factors, the Election Commission decided to allow upazila-level public representatives to contest the polls without resigning beforehand.