Legal complexities, loopholes in city corporation law

Shahed Shafiq
Published : 23:51, Jan 30, 2020 | Updated : 00:00, Jan 31, 2020

A woman is seen holding a leaflet during the campaign of  Awami League`s mayor candidate for Dhaka North City Corporation on Thursday (Jan 30).If a standing mayor wants to compete for a second term then as per law, s/he has to resign after the electoral schedule is declared. The schedule will be declared within the last 180 days of the end of the tenure.
If the election takes place at the end of the tenure of the mayor then there won’t be any problem but if it takes place much earlier, questions arise about the mayor’s absence and interim duty.
Specialists have found several vague areas in the city corporation 2009 law.
They have said that the weak aspect of the law is that if a running mayor takes part in a second election then the tenure ends after the declaration of schedule.
Secondly, the person who wins will also have to wait five months for the tenure of the current board to end.
For instance, the elected of the Dhaka North in the current polls will have to remain inactive for three and a half months.
Local government specialists say that when someone’s duty ends before the actual end of tenure, the masses are deprived of service.
As per rule, if a mayor resigns then the responsibility has to go to a panel mayor and every city corporation has a panel mayor. But local government ministry has created a precedent by not handing over power to panel mayors.
Of the three panel mayors of Dhaka North, Osman Goni is deceased while the others, Jamal Mostafa and Aleya Sarwar Daisy are campaigning. As per law, one of them should be acting mayor. But instead of that, the role has been given to DNCC’s chief executive Abdul Hye. But his power is limited and he cannot sign important files, bills or projects.
Abdul Hye says: “I was given responsibility at the absence of the mayor and my tasks have been delineated.”
The ministry of local government says that the responsibility was given to the chief executive till the election and no one knows what will happen next.
DNCC panel mayor Aleya Sarwar Daisy said: “After the designation of mayor Atiqul Islam, we are supposed to act as interim mayors but weren’t informed of anything.”
Minister for local government, rural development and cooperatives, Tajul Islam, said: “The panel mayors could not be given the duty because they also took part in the elections. So we gave another person as per rule and his roles have been defined.”
Local government specialist Tofail Ahmed, adds: “Though the city corporation elections will be held on 1 February, the tenure of the board is till 14 May. So the ones given the responsibility may have to remain powerless till then.”