EC authority ‘meaningless’

Rakib tells of powers to cancel candidature

Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad yesterday termed meaningless and inapplicable the Election Commission’s sweeping powers to cancel one’s candidacy in parliamentary polls for violation of electoral laws.
Defending the proposal for abolishing this authority, the CEC also said exercising such powers would go against the philosophy of level playing field. “Considering all these aspects, a proposal was made for abolishing article 91E,” Rakibuddin told reporters at the EC secretariat in the capital.
The CEC’s criticism of the current provision comes in the wake of mounting criticisms over the EC’s decision, taken on Sunday, seeking to surrender this authority.
Experts and critics have said such a decision will weaken the commission.
However, Election Commissioner Abdul Mobarak, who was with the CEC yesterday, claimed the EC was still strong enough.
The CEC said the commission did not have this authority until 2008 since 1973. “But there is no example of exercising this authority in the 2008 parliamentary polls.”
Interestingly, the EC was not against the provision until Sunday. It had even proposed to bring changes, introducing a provision that if only one candidate remained in the race in a constituency following cancellation of candidatures for gross violation of electoral laws, s/he would be declared elected uncontested.
The CEC said under the existing law, a fresh election will be held if only one candidate remains in the race in a constituency after cancellation of candidatures.
This would increase the election expenditure of the candidate whose candidacy was not cancelled. And he would have to face unequal competition financially, which is against the idea of level playing field, argued Rakibuddin in his efforts to defend the decision.
He said as per section 19 of the RPO if only one candidate remained in the race in a constituency after scrutiny of applications, then s/he is declared elected uncontested.
But there is no scope for declaring the lone candidate elected uncontested as per article 91E, which is contradictory to section 19, the CEC claimed.

Source: The Daily Star

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