42 prominent citizens asked the president to form a Supreme Judicial Council to probe complaints of misconduct, including financial irregularities and graft
The allegations of corruption and other misconduct against the Election Commission in a letter by 42 eminent citizens are motivated and baseless, Election Commissioner Brigadier General (retd) Shahadat Hossain Chowdhury said on Sunday.
"I do not think there are any grounds for the allegations. They are baseless and motivated. As a member of a constitutional institution, I don't want to consider these as a challenge," the election commissioner said while speaking to journalists at his office.
On December 14, the letter from 42 prominent citizens 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.
The eminent citizens said in the letter that the members of the Nurul Huda-led Commission have been involved in many examples of serious misconduct and corruption since they took office in February 2017.
"Now, what the president decides to do over the matter is up to him," Shahadat said on the allegations.
"The allegations are based on a couple of newspaper or television reports," he added.
“We issued a rejoinder covering the usage of cars. We don't know if that caught their eyes. Second, I don't think we need to explain that because it took three years to get those [cars] after we took the oath of office. We don't know if one can categorize the cars as luxurious. The UNOs [Upazila Nirbahi Officers] use the same cars,” he further said.
"They complained to the president and accused us," he said. “Not only that, they, in a sense, said what should be done or what our punishment should be. It is up to you [the public] to decide whether it is considered prudent or not. Maybe, the allegations are ill-motivated.”
The current Election Commission has done its best to hold neutral and fair elections, he added.
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.
Hasan Mahmud: Eminent citizens’ statement drafted by BNP
Information Minister and Joint General Secretary of Awami League Dr Hasan Mahmud claimed the statement by the 42 eminent citizens regarding the Election Commission (EC) had been drafted by BNP.
The minister made the remarks during a discussion at the National Press Club on Sunday afternoon.
Progressive National Awami Party-Progressive NAP (Bhasani) organized the discussion on the occasion of the 140th birth anniversary of veteran leader Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhasani.
The information minister said: “Yesterday [on Saturday] I saw that 42 prominent people of the country have made a statement about the Election Commission. With due respect to these eminent persons, I would like to say that they are all known as BNP-oriented.
“Some of them are also advisors to the BNP chairperson and they are constantly speaking against the government in various ways. The exception is that 42 people got together [on Saturday]. However, the statement was drafted by the BNP office. So, they have echoed the BNP,” Hasan Mahmud added.
"If there is any question about the Election Commission, it can be discussed," he further said, adding: “The language of the statement and their intention to divert people's attention did not seem like it came from the intellectuals. Rather, it seems to have been drafted by the BNP."
The information minister also said: “There can be criticism of the government, it is normal. But the way the BNP has been blindly criticizing, educated people are doing it the same way. So people may wonder why these educated people are suddenly talking like some uneducated people. That question arises in people's minds.”