EC taking action against over 100 Gaibandha election officials over polls irregularities

The Gaibandha parliamentary seat bypoll on Oct 12 was suspended by the election watchdog over rampant reports of irregularities

Published : 1 Dec 2022, 10:29 AM
Updated : 1 Dec 2022, 10:29 AM

The Election Commission has decided to take action against the returning officer, the additional deputy commissioner, presiding officers, sub-inspectors of police, an executive magistrate and over 100 election officials and agents involved in the Gaibandha parliamentary bypoll over neglect of duty and involvement with election irregularities.

However, the election watchdog did not recommend action against any of the election candidates, the deputy commissioner, or the superintendent of police because no evidence was found of their involvement, Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Habibul Awal told the media on Thursday. The other election commissioners and the EC secretary were present at the time.

Departmental action will be taken against Saiful Islam, the returning officer for the polls and the EC’s regional election official, the CEC said.

A presiding officer will be suspended for two months and a recommendation to discipline five police sub-inspectors has been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The EC also recommended the Ministry of Public Administration take action against 125 presiding officers, the ADC and an executive magistrate.

The CEC said that polling agents at 145 centres would not be assigned to monitor any further election.

The relevant ministries and agencies must update the EC on whether action has been taken against these officials within a month, Awal said.

The voting for the Gaibandha-5 (Saghata-Fulchhari) seat, which fell vacant after the death of Deputy Speaker Fazle Rabbi Miah, began at 145 polling centres on Oct 12.

As indiscipline began creeping in, the authorities in Dhaka, who kept a close watch on the feeds linked to the centres, suspended voting at 50 sites by noon before Awal announced pulling the plug around 2:30 pm.

It was the first poll for a parliamentary seat with the new EC in charge. The rare suspension of an election, already halfway through, evoked mixed feelings from political circles and election watchers.

The EC faced particularly strong criticism from the ruling Awami League for the decision to halt the polls.