The Election Commission has targeted senior advocates at the Supreme Court for constituting its panel of lawyers as it deems those who applied for the position as ‘less qualified’.
Election Commissioner Md Shahnewaz said the commission, in a recent meeting, decided to forward its advertisement for the positions to the Supreme Court Bar Association, Bangladesh Bar Council and office of the Attorney General.
He said the decision was made after its previous advertisement released in July seeking applications for the lawyers’ panel failed to attract what the commission said ‘efficient’ candidates.
This is the first time the commission is working on a panel of lawyers to pursue its cases pending with courts. The move comes ahead of the next parliamentary elections slated for 2013.
According to Shahnewaz, only eight advocates and a law firm applied to be enlisted with the commission but only three of the lawyers have the experience to argue cases at the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court.
“As the response to the advertisement was poor, we’ve instructed the EC Secretariat for publishing it once again.”
Earlier, two senior lawyers contacted by the commission turned down a proposal to work for it.
Another Commissioner Abdul Mubarak thinks the commission should contact some prominent lawyers besides publishing the revised circular.
The commission took into consideration only two or three applications of those who had previously applied and suggested that the remaining would not be required to file fresh applications under the fresh circular.
The lawyers whose applications have been taken into consideration include Dr Shahdeen Malik who argued for the commission in at least 150 cases in the last five years.
The officials have made the move as it is often taken to the courts over its decision, and the commission is currently contemplating taking decisions like re-drawing the constituencies which is likely to stir debate and legal challenges.
The commission faced setback in implementing the constituency re-demarcation decision in the last parliamentary elections.
Worse, it did not get efficient lawyers to argue for it.
Former Election Commissioner M Shakhawat Hossain said most of the prominent lawyers are somehow engaged with politics.
“So it’s not only difficult for them to work for the commission, but it also raises questions about the entire process as well. The Election Commission cannot get any constitutional expert or prominent lawyer (in its time of need),” he said.
“EC faces legal complexities one after another. It’ll be good for the commission to have a panel of lawyers.”