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BREAKING NEWS:

Dilemma of delimitations

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12th-Oct-2017       
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A. Mannan :
The 1972 Constitution was handsomely drafted by a team headed by law-icon of the nation Dr. Kamal Hossain ably supported by its competent members. The implementers thereafter, by many of them in the process of succession, foul-played with it on numerous instances to suit a particular game plan.
In a national election delimitation therefore, becomes a tricky subject and tends to play havoc.
Normally as the law dictates that after every population census a basic requirement is to complete a delimitation process afresh. Hardly this has been the case in Bangladesh. Article 124 of our Constitution provides scope for Parliament to make provision for delimitation. However, Article 122(2) of the Constitution clearly stipulates that once electoral roll is completed there can be no delimitation thereafter to destabilize the already enrolled constituencies.
Prudently reference may be made here to Article 125 of the Constituation that says, "The validity of any law relating to the delimitation of Constituencies ………… shall not be called in question in any court." It is crystal clear that Article 125 does not contradict Article 122 (2) since one is povision of law and the other one is an article of the Constitution. No way Constitutional provision enshrined in its Articles can be violated.
In 2008 I initiated a writ petition in the Supreme Court in the matter having the bone of contention that my constituency had been delimited afresh well after the completion of electoral roll.
There was no scope under Article 122(2) of the Constitution to delimit the said constituency afresh after having completed the voters enrollment. Most people thought that I should have won the case. I lost, for two major parties, I came to know later, wanted to hold election at the earliest time frame. It became, thus, a doctrine of political necessity. I explained to party bosses that due to the said delimitation BNP would lose additional 81 seats. No one paid any heed to my data in question. Eventually I lost but BNP burnt its fingers heavily. Here I keep myself for tactical reason aloof of 2014 election.
Having come to this stage it is needless to mention that delimitation process is very complex subject, highly tricky and extra-ordinarily dangerous that may lead to defeat because of wrong steps in the delimitation process. Alas! Who cares?
Time has come for the political parties in general and BNP in particular to take a stock of the whole account and do some home-work now, for it is better late than never. We know where there is one problem, there can be many solutions.
Stated below some of my thoughts in order that it may allure some more valuable thought processes only to enrich the whole issue and the Election Commission (EC) may hopefully take cognizance of it and take corrective measures to fulfil the aspirations of the entire nation.
Salient issues to consider are: Constituency-wise size of the population and that of the enrolled voters, size of land areas, GDP/Capita, GNI/Capita, literacy rate, terrain of the land like hills, rivers, seas, industrial land or farm land, administrative units, density of population, communication in general and with UZ, in particular, so on and so forth. Hardily very reliable data on the above issues are available after 2001 (preliminary) report and 2003 (final) report of Population census. Moreover, to consider the various ideas and factors as above may unnecessarily complicate the delimitation process and make it fully complex. However some data may have positive ingredients and host of others may be of the negative approach. To give weightage for balancing will be a futile exercise. We may therefore, take into account only the major ones:
(a) Population
(b) Enrolled Voters
(c) Area along with satellite topographical survey.
Population: - It may be worth taking only (a) since population vs voters ratio will not vary much constituency wise. In the calculation of population the permanent address needs to be considered for the constituency. In case there is no permanent residence then voter enrollment along with his/her un-enrolled family members the constituency shall, where enrollment has been registered, be taken into account.
Land Area: - Land area may be based on satellite geographical survey and terrain, local dilect and culture of the population, communication with UZ and Unions, mighty riverer and all of these need to be viewed perspectively. District-wise territory will have to be kept intact. Changing or swapping of territories amongst the constituencies may be permissible within the district territory i.e. only intra-district territory but no inter-district earmarking.
Having said the above as needed to be told in a nutshell we may devise the criteria for the ensuing delimitation, though there can be tall lists of criteria worth keeping in view.
The criteria for delimitation:
(i) Data obtainable of 2003 population census.
(ii) To update the data as in (i) wherever possible with some degree of reliability.
(iii) The delimitation of constituencies Ordinance, 1976 states:
"8(1) (a) The territorial constituencies shall be delimited afresh upon the completion of each census, for the purpose of general election to Parliament to be held following such census.
8(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Ordinance, the territorial constituencies published by the Commission in the Bangladesh Gazette, Extraordinary, dated Thursday, the 20th September, 1984, being ….……...... shall be deemed to be the territorial constituencies delimited for the purpose of the general election to Parliament to be held next following the commencement of the Delimitation of the Constituencies (Amendment) Ordinance, 1990."
Therefore Constituencies that prevailed in the 2001 election due to the reasons explained earlier can be the bench mark constituencies and we may modify these to a newer and more rational thought-processed view of the constituencies.
Calculation purpose data:  
(a) Population = 160 M
(b) Number of Constituencies = 300 as of now
(c) Mean number of Population=5,33,000 i.e. this should be the evaluation point say (A)
(d) Land area = 54,000 Sq miles
(e) Mean area = 180 sq. miles, this should be the evaluation point say (B).
Proposal will now stand as follows:
(i) Some bench-mark constituencies may pass through both A & B above and be thus accepted.
(ii) Some bench-mark constituencies may pass through either A or B and hence may be accepted.
(iii) Some may not get through both A & B and need to be made adjustable through a judicious point of view by some Judgmental heads, through integration of some area of the contiguous constituencies bearing in mind various factors explained in details above, even through merger if so needed when all other options fail.
(iv) Some constituencies may heavily supersede the national criteria of bench marks and is too big to tackle or unfair if left as it is then some thought may be pertained to it that a constituency that crosses by 80% (say) of the bench marks in both A & B then some rationalization process for bringing it down may start sooner than later.    

(Abdul mannan, fcma (UK),  Fellow, Chartered Management Accountant (FCMA) &  Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). Former   : Managing Director, Bangladesh Biman. : President, South Asian Federation of   Accountants  (SAFA) : Chairman, Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) BD. Chapter E-mail   : abdul.mannan@bengal-airlift.com)

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