By-elections to Dinajpuir-3 and Comilla-8 seats may not be held: EC secretary

As the High Court issued a stay order for two months on the by-elections to Dinajpur-3 and Comilla-8 constituencies, Election Commission (EC) officials Sunday almost confirmed about not holding the by-elections due to time constraint.

bdnews24.com
Published : 19 August 2006, 12:00 PM
Updated : 19 August 2006, 12:00 PM
Gani Adam
BDNEWS Writer
Dhaka, August 20 (BDNEWS) – As the High Court issued a stay order for two months on the by-elections to Dinajpur-3 and Comilla-8 constituencies, Election Commission (EC) officials Sunday almost confirmed about not holding the by-elections due to time constraint.
The High Court also issued a notice on August 6 to the EC asking it to explain why the schedule of the by-elections proposed to be held on September 7 will not be declared illegal within two weeks. But, the EC secretary told BDNEWS that they received the copy of the notice just on Sunday after two weeks of the stay order.
"The two- week timeframe is counted from the day of receiving the copy," AKM Salimullah, joint secretary (law) of the EC secretariat, told BDNEWS.
EC secretary Abdur Rashid Sarkar, in a separate conversation with BDNEWS, told BDNEWS that they received the copy just on Sunday.
"As the Court stayed the by-election procedure for two months that end on the first week of the October, I don't think that the by-elections will take place at all," he said.
He said that there would remain only a few days after the High Court embargo on holding by-elections was over. It is irrelevant to hold the by-elections, spending a big chunk of money when the elected lawmakers could play no role, he added.
The present parliament and the government also will end their tenure on October 10. At best 15 more days, they may have to run the state affairs until the caretaker government is formed. According to this calculation, there remain only 22 days while EC needs at least 20 days to complete the by-election procedures.
Asked, in what way the EC was thinking of responding to the HC show cause notice, EC joint secretary (law) said the Commission would decide that. Explaining the procedure in such cases, he said that they send the notice to the Commission members, who mark out the points. According to their directives, the law section of the EC secretariat prepares the reply in association with legal experts. Then the Commission checks it up again and if required, it goes for some revisions. When the file is completed, the EC secretariat submits it to the court through the office of the Attorney General or often directly.
In this regard, EC secretary Abdur Rashid Sarkar said, "We will have a discussion with our solicitors before we place the notice before the Commission in its next meeting." The Commission will meet immediately, said EC secretariat sources.
Responding to a query, another EC joint secretary Mohammad Jakaria said that, despite an apparent Constitutional obligation for holding by-elections within 90 days, it's not against the Constitution to avert by-elections due to unavoidable circumstances emanating from Court orders.
"Remember the Seventh Parliament, it ended the entire term with 299 members in the House as an electoral case regarding a seat vacated by Tofail Ahmed was not solved," he said.
The HC stayed the by-elections following writ petitions filed by some citizens of these two constituencies. The petitioners said that holding the by-elections for such a short time was nothing but wastage of money.
The Dinajpur-3 seat fell vacant following the death of BNP MP Khurshid Jahan Haque on June 14 while the Comilla-8 was vacant following the death of the then shipping minister Col. (Rtd) Akbar Hossain on June 25.
BDNEWS/1950 hrs.
Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher