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Let civil society seek review of the divided judgement in public interest

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By MAINUL HOSEIN
02nd-Aug-2017       
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After the meeting with a section of civil society members the Chief Election Commissioner Monday explained his position most clearly. He can take only those suggestions which are acceptable in line with the country's Constitution and law.

So the Election Commission cannot accept the suggestion of dissolving the Parliament before election though it is a precondition for holding parliament's election in any other country.

The Commission cannot also do anything to create level playing field, because constitutional change brought by the disputed Parliament, some will contest the election from the high position of ministers and members of the parliament while others as ordinary citizens. This should be seen brazenly discriminatory and untenable under the Constitution.

The same can be said also about other suggestions placed before the Commission.

To have elected government during election of the Parliament is considered unacceptable under parliamentary system everywhere and nowhere an example will be found that such an election is held without dissolving the Parliament. And once the Parliament ceases to exist, no government remains elected government.

The much controversial and divided judgment of the Supreme Court by a single majority of one declared unconstitutional the provision of unelected caretaker government during the election. Those who dissented with the majority judgement they did so forcefully. One of their Lordships Mr Justice Muhammad Imman Ali was forthright enough to say an election matter is political and should be left for the Parliament to decide.  

The caretaker government provision was added to the Constitution not by any martial law government but unanimously by all the parties in the parliament under the leadership of the present Awami League government.

The government was too pleased with the judgement and hurriedly amended the Constitution in line with the judgment.

In our country holding election for the change of government means fighting vote thieves. The crisis created is so deep that election alone will not solve the problem in the absence of true political leadership. Yet nobody wants election to be a game of money, violence and mayhem.

It is not unusual for the judges to err and the judges should be ready to correct the mistake if it can be established. This principle is followed by the judges of the highest court everywhere. This judgement of the Supreme Court must not remain as a flawed judgement that is causing free and fair election impossible. 

Re-examination of their Lordships' judgment has become essential in public interest of holding free and fair election.

This time the opposition parties will not sit back. They will take preparations knowing that peaceful fair election was impossible. The government will also have all preparations not to give up power. So any sensible person can see that the next election will be far from peaceful.

The question is why the nation should take risks of terrible violence and bloodshed for defending an unfair election that deprives the people of their voting right to elect their own government freely.

The best thing for the civil society will be not to waste time with the powerless Election Commission. The crisis has been created by the Supreme Court judgment and they should approach the Supreme Court for making free and fair election possible in public interest.

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