[Dhaka Correspondent] Detained BNP chairperson, Khaleda Zia, Tuesday issued a legal notice on the Election Commission, asking for withdrawal of its invitation letter to M Hafizuddin Ahmed — who was appointed as the acting secretary-general of the party at a controversial meeting of the standing committee — for the dialog on electoral reforms. The invitation letter “must be withdrawn, rescinded or canceled within 48 hours,” said the legal notice, threatening EC with legal action in case of failure to withdraw the invitation.
The notice was issued to EC, CEC, two other election commissioners, secretary of EC secretariat and principal secretary to the chief adviser. Law firm, Jamiruddin and Associates, served the notice that was signed by Nawshad Zamir, son of speaker Jamiruddin Sircar.
CEC, ATM Shamsul Huda, told newsmen after receiving the notice that EC would not withdraw the invitation letter it had sent to Hafizuddin on November 5 for the attending the dialog scheduled to be held on November 22. EC, however, will reply to the notice, “We will send our reply to the law firm concerned, and the reply will enclose a copy of the resolution of EC to send the invitation letter to Hafizuddin.”
Nawshad, Khaleda Zia’s counsel, told NEWSMEN that a writ petition would be filed if EC failed to withdraw the invitation letter. cEC, when asked about the counsel’s reaction, said, “If anyone is aggrieved by our action, s/he is free to file a lawsuit and we will fight the legal battle.”
On November 6, a day after the invitation letter was sent, he had said that the “doctrine of necessity” prompted EC to invite the Saifur-led faction of the BNP to the dialog.
Nawshad said he had served the notice in accordance with Khaleda Zia’s instructions and he had received the instructions, along with power of attorney, on November 10 when one of his associates, Nasiruddin Ashim, met the former premier at the special jail. The notice termed EC’s invitation letter illegal, mala fide and without lawful authority, and said that it was issued to subvert the process of law and in violation of BNP’s constitution.
BNP chairperson, the only elected person in the party’s management, enjoys the exclusive authority and power to include or expel anybody, said the notice. Khaleda appointed Khandakar Delwar Hossain as the secretary-general after expelling Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan from the party on September 2, a day before she was arrested in connection with a corruption case.
BNP’s acting office secretary Rizvi Ahmed, communicating with EC by letters dated September 5 and 24, requested it to invite BNP’s new secretary-general, Khandakar Delwar Hossain, to the dialog. In absence of BNP chairperson, the secretary-general is the only legitimate representative of BNP and so it is he who should be invited to the proposed dialog, said the legal notice.
Referring to the CEC’s plea of the “doctrine of necessity” which had reportedly compelled EC to hurriedly issue the letter of invitation to Hafiz, the notice said, “It is completely inappropriate and inapplicable.” The notice also mentioned that the High Court on November 4 issued a rule on EC to explain why it would not be directed to invite legitimate BNP leaders to the dialog in accordance with its rules and the party’s constitution.
The notice said that just a day after the issuance of the rule, EC dispatched the letter inviting Hafiz, who was appointed acting secretary-general by a controversial meeting of the BNP’s standing committee held on October 29.
“Considering the decisions of the October 29 meeting of the BNP standing committee as appropriate, the commission unanimously decided to invite the acting secretary-general of the party, Hafizuddin Ahmed, to take part in the dialog with the commission scheduled for November 22,” said Humayun Kabir, secretary to the EC secretariat, while reading out EC’s decision on November 5.
At the press briefing he said that EC had taken the decision after going through the party’s constitution and the letters — one on the appointment of Khandakar Delwar Hossain as acting secretary-general after expelling Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan from the BNP, and the other terming the expulsion as illegal, and a third on the decision of the standing committee’s meeting.
EC in its resolution did not mention a fourth letter, sent by Khandakar Delwar Hossain’s faction, that insisted that the meeting, chaired by Saifur Rahman on October 29, was illegal according to the party’s constitution.
“It appears that chairperson had taken cognizance of a part of the clause of the party’s constitution while making the decision [expulsion of Mannan], and ignored the other portion of the same clause stipulating the need for conducting a personal hearing. EC thinks Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan was deprived of natural justice in such a process,” read the EC statement issued on November 5.