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Rift in EC deepens as commissioners claim they’re being kept out of the loop

  • Published at 05:24 pm November 25th, 2019
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File photo of Nirbachan Bhaban, which houses the offices of the Election Commission and its secretariat, in Dhaka's Agargaon Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

Free, fair and credible election not possible without proper coordination between the Commission and its secretariat, said Mahbub Talukdar

The rift between Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda and four other Election Commissioners is deepening as the Commissioners have complained of being kept out of the loop in the Commission’s decision-making process.

Election Commissioners Mahbub Talukdar, Rafiqul Islam, Kabita Khanam and Shahadat Hossain made this complaint on November 24 (Sunday) in a letter to CEC KM Nurul Huda. They alleged that the Office of the Chief Election Commissioner and EC Secretary Md Alamgir take all the decisions -- circumventing due process -- on all important matters.

The Commissioners, in the letter, alleged that they were not informed about many issues, including the financial transactions of the commission. Presently, the EC has no control over the officers and employees of the EC secretariat, they added.

The Commissioners also pointed out that the officers and employees are hardly held accountable for their actions and not under the control of the CEC and the EC secretary.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukdar said the Commission is marred by irregularities, making it impossible to ensure transparency and accountability at the all-important constitutional body. 

"A pattern of arbitrariness is going on within the Election Commission Secretariat, which clearly breaches the Constitution, Representation of the Peoples' Order, the EC Secretariat Act," Talukdar said while speaking to the media in his office.

"It's imperative to conduct all activities of the Election Commission strictly in line with the rules and regulations," Talukdar said, before adding that a fair and credible election is not possible without appropriate coordination between the commission and its secretariat.

Complaining of irregularities in recruitment for vacant posts in the Commission, he said that the Secretariat had expelled 135 job-seekers or applicants from the written tests on charges of fraud - however, it had not initiated any punitive measures.

An estimated Tk4 crore was paid to a Dhaka University department to administer the recruitment test and grade the papers, said Talukdar.

"The Chief Election Commissioner cleared the money for disbursement; however, there were no particulars of this expenditure with the Commission. The Secretariat even does not know anything about it," he alleged.

When the Commissioners sought explanation in a meeting on Nov 14, EC Secretary Md Alamgir said that the issue was beyond their authority, and was supported by CEC KM Nurul Huda, said Talukdar.

Dismissing allegations of irregularities in the recruitment process, he added that the Commission could open an inquiry if the complaints in the letter are found to be true.

The CEC and the EC secretary, however, feel that appointments and a few other issues are not within the EC’s jurisdiction.

“All recruitments and administrative tasks have been done in line with the rules and regulations,” EC Secretary Alamgir claimed.

The EC secretariat in February advertised for the recruitment of 339 employees for posts between grades 12 and 20. A total of 85,893 applications were submitted. The appointments were finalised and appointment letters sent this month.