'We announce the schedule for an election after receiving a formal letter from the division. They are in charge of scrutinizing whether there is any legal barrier against organizing an election'
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) KM Nurul Huda has pointed out that the Election Commission is not responsible for polls postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.
He made the comment after participating in a view exchange with Gazipur district administration officials on Wednesday.
The CEC also visited the Gazipur district election office earlier in the day.
Speaking to the reporters, Nurul Huda said: “We organize polls as per the constitutional guidelines, and we organize local government polls only after being requested by the Local Government Division.
“We announce the schedule for an election after receiving a formal letter from the division. They are in charge of scrutinizing whether there is any legal barrier against organizing an election. Once we receive their clearance letter, we seldom have the time to double check for any issues.”
He continued: “We have sent the division separate letters before planning the Gazipur and Khulna city polls, asking them about any possible demarcation issues, legal barriers or unsolved matters that could disrupt the polls.”
“The Local Government Division formally notified us that there are no issues whatsoever. Following the confirmation, we announced the polls schedules. It is not our failing that Gazipur election was postponed.”
Adding that the division should not be blamed either, Nurul Huda said: “They (Local Government Division) gave us the go ahead after proper scrutiny.”
When asked about the possibility of holding the Gazipur polls on May 15, he stated: “Only if we could get a court decision on Wednesday. But I highly doubt it is possible.
“I also consulted the returning officer, deputy commissioner and superintendent of police, and they all stated that voting cannot be held on May 15.”
The CEC however added that the superintendent of police has agreed to make necessary preparations for organizing a vote on the previously scheduled date if the court orders it.
When asked about the possibility of encountering similar issues during the next general polls, Nurul Huda said: “The parliamentary polls are held under a deadline, which cannot exceed 90 days.”
“The city corporation polls must be held within 180 days. The court will surely understand the situation.”
Returning Officer Rakib Uddin Mondal, Gazipur Deputy Commissioner Dr Dewan Muhammad Kabir, and officials of the district administration were present at the briefing.
On May 6, the High Court stayed the election, which was scheduled to be held on May 15, for three months.
It also issued a rule asking the government to explain in four weeks as to why the inclusion of six moujas of Dhaka district into Gazipur City Corporation should not be declared illegal.
ABM Azharul Islam Suruj, Shimulia union parishad chairman of Savar, filed the writ on Sunday challenging the legality of the gazette as the Election Commission announced the election schedule incorporating six moujas of Dhaka district, which is illegal.
Chief Election Commissioner KM Nurul Huda announced the election schedule for Gazipur and Khulna city corporations on March 31.
Gazipur City Corporation is comprised of 57 general and 19 reserved wards, with a total number of 1,137,736 registered voters.