The Election Commission has finalized total 40,199 polling centres across the country for the 11th national election. Confirming the number, the commission’s Deputy Secretary Md Abdul Halim Khan told reporters on Tuesday that the commission has already started publishing gazettes in this regard. Meanwhile, multiple news outlets, quoting intelligence agencies, reported that 64% of the polling centres across the country are vulnerable to violence, with the highest number of such centres in Dhaka division.
Police have classified 25,827 as “important,” which, according to police sources, is way of avoiding the term “vulnerable,” since it has a negative connotation. Usually during polls, 20 members of the law enforcement agencies and Ansar are deployed in each vulnerable centre and 15 in each normal centre. Some 104.2 million voters will exercise their rights to vote across the country in the 11th national election to be held on December 30.
In the last general election, there were 37,707 polling stations against some 91.9 million voters across the country.
A total of 318 candidates mostly from opposition parties filed their appeals with the commission till the penultimate date for filing such appeals, December 4th, EC sources said. The aspirants could file the appeal with the EC for one more day at the time of going to press. . The commission will start hearing on the appeals the day after (December 6). “We will be neutral during hearing the appeals,” Commissioner Mahbub Talukder told reporters while visiting booths set up to receive appeals on the premises of Nirbachan Bhaban after a meeting with the 14-party alliance on the day.
Replying to a question whether the EC will ensure justice in disposal of the appeals, the Election Commissioner said “justice is a relative matter”. Mahbub Talukder said he had been there to visit the booths to know whether the petitioners face troubles in filing their appeals. The Election Commission setup eight booths on its secretariat premises for registering petitions from the aggrieved aspirants. Returning officers had earlier accepted 2,279 nomination papers and turned down 786 others submitted in the country’s 300 constituencies to contest the 11th national election slated for December 30.
The High Court rejected a writ petition that challenged the legality of the appointment of chief election commissioner and four other election commissioners. The bench of Justice Moyeenul Islam Chowdhury and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal rejected the petition considering that it was not moved properly. There is no legal bar on CEC KM Nurul Huda and four other election commissioners to discharge their duties and to conduct the December 30 election following the HC order, Deputy Attorney General Ekramul Haque Tutul said.
The CEC and election commissioners were appointed on February 6 last year, but the writ petitioner has challenged their appointment after long a delay with a mala fide intention, the deputy attorney general argued. Supreme Court lawyer Md Delwar Hossain filed the petition with the HC on November 25. He also sought a directive from the HC upon the government to cancel appointments of the election commissioners to constitute a fresh EC and a stay on the process for holding the election.
Supreme Court lawyer Eunus Ali Akond yesterday filed a writ petition with the HC challenging the legality of EC’s decision to use electronic voting machines (EVMs) in six constituencies. He sought HC directives upon the authorities concerned not to use EVM. The EC has decided to use EVM in Dhaka-6 and-13, Chattogram-9, Rangpur-3, Khulna-2 and Satkhira-2 in the parliamentary election.
In another development, the HC yesterday summarily rejected a writ petition filed by Bangladesh Jatiya Party Chairman Andaleeve Rahman Partho seeking its directives upon the EC for using EVM at his (Bhola-1) constituency. The bench of Justice Md Ashfaqul Islam and Justice Mohammad Ali passed the order, saying the use of EVMs is a policy decision of the EC; the HC cannot interfere with the decision. Petitioner’s lawyer advocate Ahsanul Karim said his client has not yet instructed him to move any appeal before the Appellate Division challenging the HC order.