Amid the glaring absence of known BNP-leaning lawyers, voting of the much-talked-about Supreme Court Bar Association, or SCBA, elections have concluded after two days of high drama which involved violence, jostling, and chaos on the premises of the highest court of the land.
Md Moniruzzaman, the convener of the ruling party-backed subcommittee in charge of the election, said he believed over 4,000 association members cast ballots in the polls from a total voter of 8,602. Polls were closed at 5pm on Thursday.
“Votes will be counted throughout the night,” Moniruzzaman said.
Pro-BNP lawyers were not seen near voting booths or casting ballots after Wednesday’s clash, though they did not officially boycott the election either.
Voting began two hours later behind the scheduled opening time on Wednesday as ruling party-supporting lawyers had locked into a fistfight with BNP-supporting lawyers near the voting booths.
The fistfight turned into bloody violence when on-duty police personnel intervened. Several journalists covering the elections became victims of abrupt police actions at the time.
Witnesses said that lawyers from Awami League-backed Bangabandhu Awami Ainjibi Parishad and BNP-backed Jatiyatabadi Ainjibi Oikya Panel scuffled when BNP-leaning lawyers attempted to enter the polling station to oppose the election.
Pro-BNP lawyers alleged that police personnel swooped on them while protesting the election, calling it unilateral.
On Thursday morning, a delegation of BNP-affiliated lawyers appeared in front of the chief justice-led Bangladesh Appellate Division bench to inform the court about police action near the voting site and made some additional demands.
Some senior delegation members later met with Chief Justice Hasan Foez Siddique and Attorney General AM Amin Uddin at their respective chambers at the Supreme Court premises.
Lawyers loyal to both sides of the political spectrum staged demonstrations throughout the day.
The SCBA polls take place yearly to elect the president, secretary, and 12 other association leaders.
Seven out of those positions are currently held by the ruling party-supporting lawyers, including the posts of president and secretary, while the rest seven are held by the BNP-backed lawyers.
Incumbent President and Secretary, Md Momtazuddin Fakir and Md Abdun Nur Dulal were running to retain their positions against their respective challengers-- AM Mahbub Uddin Khokon and Md Ruhul Quddus Kazal.
Tensions were brewing before the voting day as pro-Awami League, and pro-BNP panels formed two respective subcommittees to organise the election last month.
After much back and forth, both sides agreed to make senior lawyer Md Munsurul Hoque Chowdhury the head of the seven-member election-organising sub-committee.
However, the status quo fell apart when Munsurul resigned from the post for personal reasons on Monday.