Dispute over hierarchy in EC as commissioner Nawaz seeks rotation

Election Commissioner Md Shah Nawaz has been the first to sign files during past four years.

His signature on documents is followed by those of the other commissioners – MD Zabed Ali, Abu Hafiz, and Mohammad Abdul Mobarak – in that order, before the papers reach Chief Election Commissioner Kazi Rakibuddin Ahmad for the final clearance.

But Nawaz has recently objected to this hierarchy.

He claims all the commissioners are of the same rank and the order in which the signatures are done should change every week.

Nawaz made the suggestion following differences of opinion between him and Ali on a matter concerning the Union Parishad elections.

A file was stuck with Ali, though Nawaz had already signed as the fist signatory.

Ali, who is younger than Nawaz, signs the files after him, as he had joined the commission before Nawaz.

Mobarak is the senior-most in terms of age. Hafiz was born after him.

Md Shah Nawaz & MD Zabed Ali

Md Shah Nawaz & MD Zabed Ali

CEC Ahmad and commissioners Mobarak, Hafiz and Ali took oath on Feb 9, 2012, while Nawaz on Feb 15.

Nawaz has given EC Secretary Md Sirazul Islam an ‘unofficial note’ seeking a ‘solution to the problem’.

Copies of the note have been given to the other commissioners also.

“The chief election commissioner’s attention will be drawn on the matter. Then you will know the decision,” Secretary Islam said after the commissioners twice held meetings on Sunday.

In the note, Nawaz has argued that he cannot be informed of a change in decision on a file already signed by him as the first signatory.

He wants the first signatory to change on a weekly rotation to get round this problem.

EC officials said a dispute occurred between Nawaz and Ali after the latter blocked a UP polls file signed by the former.

Nawaz took the issue to the secretary.

Islam said the matter would be reviewed in the light of Nawaz’s request.

EC officials think the rotation will create new complexities.

Several officials said they were already having difficulty in getting files signed by a five-member EC. The previous EC had two commissioners other than the CEC.