Friday, May 24, 2024

Move to empower exec magistrates to try polls offences rejected

Khadimul Islam
The Supreme Court has rejected the move of both the home ministry and Election Commission to invest executive magistrates with powers to try electoral offences during the December 29 general elections.
The commission received a letter from the Supreme Court, said a high official in the commission secretariat.
According to the official, the letter said the general administration committee of the Supreme Court, headed by the chief justice, had rejected the appeal of the commission and the government to invest executive magistrates with powers to try electoral offences.
The commission on November 27 decided to empower executive magistrates to hold trials of electoral offences. It sent a letter to the establishment ministry asking it to obtain Supreme Court permission for the implementation of the decision.
In the letter, the commission also mentioned the limitations of the executive magistrates to hold summary trials of electoral offences unless they were given powers to try the offences.
The home ministry on December 7 issued a circular on election security saying the divisional commissioners and district magistrates would take necessary steps to engage executive magistrates when the establishment ministry got the Supreme Court permission for giving them electoral offence trial authority.
As the Code of Criminal Procedure does not allow executive magistrates to do the job, both the commission and the home ministry asked the establishment ministry to seek Supreme Court permission in this regard.
In keeping with the code, only judicial magistrates are authorised to try electoral offences as such offences are punishable with imprisonment, fine or both. Executive magistrates have no authority to award imprisonment for any offences and they can only fine individuals.
According to the Representation of the People Order, an individual could be jailed for two to seven years and fined for committing electoral offences on the polling day.
According to the order, magistrates are assigned on polling day to hold summary trial of electoral offences including interfering or attempting to interfere when a voter records his vote, intentionally defacing or destroying a ballot paper, creating obstacles to conducting elections or counting of votes, resorting to an act of violence or unruly behaviour, giving threats or intimidating voters or people involved in election activities or duties.
The law ministry on November 16 amended the Mobile Court Ordinance to include the offences laid out in the Representation of the People Order under the jurisdiction of mobile courts run by executive magistrates.
The interim government at the request of the commission has appointed around 400 executive magistrates from the administration cadre to keep law and order across the country during the polls.
The government on Wednesday also revived the executive magistracy of 396 administration cadre officials posted to the field level mostly as assistant commissioners (land).
The establishment ministry Saturday evening issued a notification to the effect.
A high establishment ministry official, however, on Saturday told New Age the executive magistrates now deputed to the Election Commission would run mobile courts to help to keep law and deal with electoral offences till December 31.
Of the newly appointed executive magistrates, 350 are senior assistant secretaries and the remaining are deputy secretaries. All of them were working under different ministries.
More than 50,000 military personnel were on Saturday deployed across the country for 12 days on polls duty in aid of civil administration for security in connection with the elections.
Each battalion of the striking force will be directed by an executive magistrate, who will act in line with the Representation of the People Order, regulations of the code of conduct for political parties and candidates and the Code of Criminal Procedure.

Courtesy: newagebd.com

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