Noted personalities yesterday said the government had violated the constitution and meddled in the activities of a constitutional body by snubbing the Election Commission’s request for army deployment in the Narayanganj City Corporation polls. Talking to our correspondents Wasim Bin Habib and Rakib Ahammed, they observed the government action would raise questions in people’s minds about the possibility of holding the next parliamentary polls freely and fairly under a political government.
Former Chief Election Commissioner Abu Hena said maintaining law and order is very crucial to holding a peaceful election. If necessary, the Election Commission can demand deployment of troops. The government must not balk at that demand, as it is obliged to cooperate with the commission and extend all support necessary to hold a free and fair election.
Govt guilty on 2 counts
…….Syed Amirul Islam
TThe government is constitutionally bound to meet all requirements of the Election Commission for holding polls, said Justice Syed Amirul Islam, a retired judge of the High Court.
“The Election Commission is a constitutional body, and by not complying with its request for army deployment, the government has not only contravened article 126 of the constitution but also obstructed the process of election.”
In other words, he said, the government has interfered in the activities of an autonomous body.
It’s kind of interference
The refusal to meet the commission’s demand certainly reflects a sort of government interference in the commission’s functions, said M Hafizuddin Khan, former adviser to a caretaker government.
He said there is no option for the government but to fulfil the commission’s requirement since it is obliged to do so. “The government did not even respond to the EC. It is a terrible act,” he said.
“The government is stressing that it is strengthening the commission. And if this is an example of it, the situation is quite alarming.
“What will happen in the next parliamentary election when there will be no caretaker government? It is really a matter of concern.”
EC becomes toothless tiger
…….Justice Abdur Rouf
The EC has become a “toothless tiger” with the government’s refusal to deploy the army for the Narayanganj polls, said Justice Mohammad Abdur Rouf, a former chief election commissioner.
People will lose confidence in the commission, as it has failed to fulfil the demand for army deployment, he said in an interview with BBC Bangla Service yesterday.
People to get suspicious
Human rights activist Sultana Kamal said the government has not given due dignity to the Election Commission.
“Now, there will be questions in people’s minds about the holding of a free and fair election under a political government.”
She said it is the government’s duty to give the EC all necessary support for holding a fair and peaceful election.
Govt failed to read constitution
Eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik said, “It indicates the government’s lack of understanding of the country’s constitutional framework. Under the constitution, different institutions are entrusted with different tasks. If one fails, the others also fail. Here, the government has failed to respond.”
“It has not only made the election but also democracy and the rule of law too difficult to be meaningful,” he observed.
Clouds over EC pledges
The government’s rebuffing the request for troops deployment will raise questions of whether it has played its due role in supporting the Election Commission to conduct the election in a free and fair manner, said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, Executive Director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
Non-deployment of the army will also call into question the government’s commitment to empowering the Election Commission following the abolition of the caretaker government system, he said.
Dr Iftekharuzzaman said people expect that the government will explain the reasons behind its decision of not responding to the commission’s requirement.