Since the Gazipur City Corporation (GCC) election has been pushed back to three months, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jatiya Party (JaPa) have expressed their concern over the national election of the country. When the High Court (HC) stayed the GCC polls, Jatiya Party`s secretary general ABM Ruhul Amin Howlader said, ‘The stay on GCC polls puts the country’s national election under the cloud of uncertainty.’
On the next day, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said, ‘Will the government halt the national election too if BNP joins it?’ In the political arena, a question rises among people, if it is constitutionally legitimate to postpone the national election. In that case, how will the government run? In three occasions, Bangladesh has seen the change in power without election.
The first one took place after August 15, 1975, when the founding Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was murdered brutally along with his entire family by Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, who came to power unconstitutionally. Ziaur Rahman also came to power through a military coup and killing many people and that was the second example of constitutional violation in this regard. On March 24, 1982, when Ershad came to power, he also violated the provision of the constitution. Besides, the caretaker government of Fakhruddin Ahmed remained in power through using the weak points of the constitution.
But, if no election takes place after the end of the tenure of a parliament, will there be any constitutional gap? Can HC stay the national election like it stayed the GCC election? The current Election Commission (EC) has reorganized the boundary of 25 constituencies. The voter`s list has also been updated. Challenging the demarcation of 25 constituencies, writ petition may be filed in the High Court. However, constitution expert Barrister Amir-ul Islam thinks, ‘There is no scope to stay the 300 seated national election through such writ. At best, elections in those 25 constituencies may be stayed. But the relevant question arises; will the parliament be formed without the elections in those 25 constituencies? The clause 65(3) of the constitution says ‘No’. In that case, the entire national election may fall into uncertainty. Many law experts are also saying that the election may face challenge over the voter’s list issue. Two provisions of the constitution of Bangladesh have approved the extension of the parliament. Clause 72 of the constitution says that if the state engages in a war, then the tenure of the parliament can be extended for one more year after passing the law in the parliament. In this regard, Barrister Rokanuddin Mahmud said, ‘It may be extended up to 5 years too. It will be like renewing it for 5 times. Again, if the war continues, it can be further extended up to 10 years.’ But the point is there is no war taking place in Bangladesh. And the law experts are saying that Bangladesh-Myanmar border is having a war-like situation. And if any war eventually takes place, the tenure of the parliament can be extended for one more year as per the aforementioned clause of the constitution. However, the political observers are not foreseeing any war between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Election Commission also has the constitutional power to recede the election up to 180 days or 6 months. Article 123(4) of the constitution has conferred such power to the Chief Election Commissioner. But, this will only be considered in case of exceptional cases.
Despite much confusion of the political parties regarding the national election, there is little chance to go beyond the constitutional framework and postponement of the national election. People of the country are looking forward to a new election eagerly.
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