June 19, 2024, 4:17 pm

Staff Correspondent

2023-05-19 04:29:10 BdST

RPO AMENDMENTBalloting of polling stations can be postponed, cancelled

The Cabinet on Thursday gave the final approval to the draft of 'Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2023' with a new provision in an order to authorise the Election Commission to postpone or cancel the election result of one or more than one polling stations during the election.

The approval came from the Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her office here in the city.

"A new provision has been incorporated in it.... As per the provision, the authority has been given to postpone or cancel the result of one or more than one polling stations at any time during the election due to use of muscle power or any other reason," Cabinet Secretary Md Mahbub Hossain briefed reporters at Bangladesh Secretariat after the meeting.

He, however, said there is no issue of canceling the entire election in the proposed law.

He explained that if the EC thinks that there is a problem with the balloting of a polling station, it can cancel or postpone its balloting during the election. It may be during balloting or ballot counting, he said.

The Cabinet Secretary said the issue of punishing the offenders for hampering media men to perform their "lawful" duty during the election is also in the new provision.

The Cabinet earlier on March 28 last approved in principle the draft of Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2023.

Appeal can be made also against valid nomination paper:

Now the decision of a returning officer regarding cancellation of a nomination paper can be challenged. But as per the draft law, the decision of a returning officer that declared a nomination paper valid can also be challenged.

"Appeal can be made against any decision of a returning officer regarding both cancellation and acceptance of nomination papers," said the Cabinet Secretary.

According to the proposed law, an aspirant can't be defaulted in repaying bank loan or installment and he needs to clear all utility bills before a day from the day of the submission of nomination papers. Otherwise, he said, the candidature would be canceled.

The aspirant needs to attach a TIN certificate and receipts of tax payment with a nomination paper as well, said the Cabinet Secretary.

As per the draft law, the EC can appoint a returning officer for one or more constituencies. It has been made constituency-based also, which was only district-based, said Mahbub Hossain.

This change paved the way for the EC to appoint a returning officer for two or more constituencies of one more district.

Now the EC has authority to appoint a returning officer for one or more constituencies of a single district.

Besides, the Cabinet cleared the drafts of two other laws --Secured Transactions (Movable Assets) Act, 2023 and Bangladesh Public Procurement Authority Act, 2023 and Bangladesh Trade and Tariff Commission (Amendment) Act, 2023.

The meeting endorsed the Amendments to the Agreement Establishing the Common Fund for Communities, which was placed by the Commerce Ministry.

It also approved the proposal for ratifying the agreement between Bangladesh and Argentina on Visa exemption for holders of diplomatic and official passports.

The Cabinet also Okayed the proposal for signing and ratifying the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Secretariat, its Personnel and Representatives of Members of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.

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