The Supreme Court Bar Association on Sunday vowed to start its scheduled two-day polls today defying the ban on the elections imposed by the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s additional deputy commissioner Shamsunnahar issued the order on the bar association general secretary on Sunday asking the association to refrain from holding the elections.
The order stated, ‘It has been known from different media and sources that the preparation of holding elections to the executive committee of the Supreme Court Bar Association is going on. According to the Emergency Powers Rules, prior permission of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner is required for holding such elections in the Dhaka metropolitan area. It is a violation of the Emergency Powers Rules. So, the SCBA authority is requested to refrain from holding the polls.’
Immediately after receiving the order, the bar association held an emergency meeting with its president M Amirul Islam in the chair and the meeting vowed to go ahead with its scheduled polls.
The election committee of the bar also held a separate meeting with its convenor Nizamul Haque Nasim in the chair and resolved, ‘The elections will be held in time as scheduled.’
Nasim told last night, ‘We will go ahead with the scheduled polls accordingly as the DMP has no authority to ban the elections to the SCBA.’
The SCBA sent a letter to the Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner informing him the decision of the bar association to hold the elections in scheduled time, SCBA president Amirul Islam told last night.
‘If the SCBA election is thwarted, the judicial system of the country, its image and independence will be called into question, says the SCBA letter, signed by its general secretary AM Aminuddin.
The letter also requested the DMP ‘not to infringe upon the independence’ of lawyers to exercise their voting right to elect their representatives.
According to the constitution of the bar association, there is no need of taking any prior permission from any authority to hold its elections, stated letter.
Holding elections is an internal affair of the bar association, the letter said adding, ‘as there will be no meeting, rally or procession during the electioneering, such election cannot be come under the purview of the Emergency Power Rules.’
Amirul told , ‘We discussed the issue with senior advocates of the Supreme Court and also the aspirant candidates and all have opined that there is no need to ake any permission for the polls.’
There are a number of precedence of holding elections to the bar during state of emergency and even martial laws in different times in the past including the Pakistani era without any prior permission, he mentioned.
Holding elections in every year is a tradition of the bar and the tradition has never been broken even under the martial laws excepting in the last year, he said.
The Annual election of the bar was first scheduled for March 28-29, 2007 and it had been postponed following a ban imposed by the DMP.
When asked, a DMP high official told , ‘The bar association has been asked to refrain from holding the polls in order to avoid any untoward incident under the ongoing emergency.’
Asked about the bar associations decision to go ahead with the scheduled polls and the letter sent by the bar general secretary, the official said, ‘We decide the matter at a meeting today.’
Aminuddin sent the copies of the letter to different government high-ups including the law adviser and inspector general of police.
Meanwhile, a total of 40 candidates for 14 posts are contesting the election. Candidates are seeking vote individually sans any panel.
Six candidates are in the race for the post of president while seven vying for secretary.
The president candidates are Barrister Shafique Ahmed, Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, AK Mujibur Rahman, Humayun Hossain Khan, M Sirajul Islam Khan and Saifur Reza. The secretary candidates are Abdullah Al-Mamun, AKM Bayezid, Zahirul Huq, M Badruddozza, M Nurul Islam Sujan Sheikh Awsafur Rahman Bulu and SM Abul Hossain.
According to earlier announcement, voting starts at 10 am and continues till 5 pm with one-hour break at 1 pm each day. Some 1780 voters will exercise their franchise.
At the emergency meeting of the bar, Amirul said, ‘May be the order has been issued due to ignorance of some people or some ones in the government may have issued the order in order to demean the popularity and image of the government.’