Detained Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia’s counsel TH Khan told the High Court on Wednesday that the chief election commissioner made the commission controversial before the general election trying to divide the party.
Khan made the remarks while making his submission in the High Court bench of Justice Mirza Hossain Haider and Justice Mamnoon Rahman on a writ petition filed by Khaleda, also a former prime minister, challenging the validity of the commission’s letter inviting the reformist faction of BNP for dialogue on electoral reforms.
The election commission had tried to divide the BNP by inviting the party faction secretary general Hafizuddin Ahmed for electoral reforms talks, argued TH Khan opening the hearing on the writ petition.
The court adjourned the hearing till Monday.
To invite Hafizuddin, the commission gave a judgment on whoever the mainstream in the BNP was, that was not function to the commission, argued TH Khan, also adviser to the BNP chairperson.
Pointing out the commission’s reply to the High Court rule, Khan questioned the commission’s reasoning about ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ in sending the invitation letter to Hafizuddin.
‘This theory can only be applied in case of emergency situation of the state, but nothing such happened in this case,’ Khan contended.
In its reply, the commission also explained that expulsion of Mannan Bhiuyan from the post of party’s general secretary was a violation of ‘natural justice’.
‘The chairperson will decide who will remain in the party, but who has empowered the commission to interfere the intra-party matters,’ the counsel posed question.
Before adjournment of the hearing, the commission’s Kamal Hossain told the court, ‘The commission has no intention to deal with the intra-party conflicts continuing over supremacy on the BNP.’
‘The Party may resolve the matter and send the name to the commission to represent the party in the dialogue,’ he said.
‘If the party fails to resolve the issue, the court may give its decision and the commission will go by the verdict,’ said Kamal.
Kamal Hossain earlier submitted the reply of the commission saying that the case had no implication as the dialogue was scheduled for November 22, 2007 and the schedule already expired.
Quoting from separate replies submitted by four BNP standing committee members RA Gani, M Shamsul Islam, Khondker Mahabubuddin Ahmad and Chowdhury Tanbir Ahmed Siddiqui, Khan dubbed ‘midnight coup’ the October 29 standing committee meeting that appointed Saifur Rahman as acting chairperson and Hafiz acting secretary general.
According to their replies, the four standing committee members claimed that they had just joined a tea party hosted by former finance minister Saifur Rahman at his Gulshan residence that night.
Two ‘unidentified officials’ were present at the late evening party, the BNP leaders said, adding that they were to sign a resolution draft by the two, who forced them to do so on ‘special circumstance.’
According to the BNP constitution, Khan contended, none but the chairperson can convene a meting of the standing committee and fifty percent of the standing committee members must be present during the meeting, otherwise there would be no quorum to the standing committee meeting.
‘There was only six members out of the 15 standing committee members,’ TH Khan claimed.
Halting the commission dialogue with the BNP scheduled for November 22, the High Court on November 18, 2007 issued the rule on the commission and the government to explain why the commission’s invitation letter addressed to Hafiz would not be declared illegal.