‘Using legal provisions as weapon hinders fair polls’

Bangla Tribune Report
Published : 19:49, Sep 16, 2018 | Updated : 17:23, Sep 17, 2018

Shujan organised the roundtable discussion titled ‘Amending the Representation of the People Order, 1972 and Fair Election’ at the Jatiya Press Club.Using the legal provisions like the Representation of the People Order as a ‘weapon’ against any individual or political party will hinder fair elections, according to civil rights body Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan).
Shujan organised the roundtable discussion titled ‘Amending the Representation of the People Order, 1972 and Fair Election’ at the Jatiya Press Club.
“Representation of the People Order (RPO) of 1972 is the most significant law during any election and it should not be misused,” Shujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumder told the discussion.
The election commission (EC) has always ignored calls from the civil society, he said hoping that the Parliament will take them into consideration and make amendments for the sake of free and fair polls.
According to Majumder, several stakeholders, including the EC, government, administration and political parties have roles in ensuring a fair election, but the RPO is a major factor.
Badiul Alam said different stakeholders, including the Election Commission, the government, administration and political parties, have certain roles to play in ensuring a fair and neutral election while the RPO is the most important tool in this regard.
The government should amend the law considering public welfare rather than using it as a weapon, he added.
Several changes have been made to the RPO recently and the move to incorporate the use of EVMs in national polls is the most significant one, he said.
The 1972 RPO is not enough for the empowerment of the people, according to Supreme Court lawyer Jyotirmoy Barua.
“The Constitution stipulates that all power belongs to the people and the RPO is the tool for it. The Constitution only outlined the principle, but the issue is how to ensure that?” he said.
A controversial election commission will not have an effective staff, said former Cabinet secretary Ali Imam Majumder.
“An issue has come up on introducing a separate cadre for EC officials. I, however, disagree as a controversial commission will not function properly.”
The retired bureaucrat claimed that the electoral code of conduct was “blatantly violated” during the recent city corporation polls.
While presenting recommendations of Shujan for the upcoming national election, it's central coordinator Dilip Kumar Sarkar said, “'No-vote' should be introduced in the election so that voters can give their opinion through the ballot. “
Provisions should be included to register nomination papers online, register income tax details of female candidates for the reserved seats, ensure punishment if anyone provides fake information in one’s nomination paper and introduce guidelines for social media to avoid any propaganda.
The speakers also called for simplifying the registration system of political parties.
Chief coordinator of Ganasanghati Andolan Junaid Saki, Gano Forum Executive President Chairman Subrata Chowdhury, Prof CR Abrar of Dhaka University’s International Relations and Shujan member Syeda Rizwana Hasan also spoke on the occasion.