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2700 Executive Magistrates are Entering the Field to Prevent chaos for Upcoming Election

In resistance to the violation of the Election Code of Conduct, the Election Commission (EC) has directed the Ministry of Public Administration to recruit approximately 2,700 executive magistrates. This directive was issued yesterday, Monday, through a letter. It states that from November 28 onwards, executive magistrates will assume responsibilities in 300 electoral areas across the country. They will serve in the electoral areas until January 4, which means they will perform duties for 38 days, incurring an expenditure of approximately hundreds of crores.

According to the EC’s letter, for three unions, one executive magistrate each will be appointed (two in remote and distant areas), and in the municipal areas, three magistrates for each municipality, including four individuals in each city corporation ward. For Dhaka and Chittagong City Corporations, one executive magistrate will be appointed for every three wards.

During the 2018 parliamentary elections, one magistrate was appointed in each upazila. In addition, for each ward in city corporations, one executive magistrate was appointed. In the electoral areas, one to two magistrates were appointed in each municipal area within the district. All significant political parties, including the Bangladesh Awami League, participated in that election. However, this time, parties from the BNP and supported alliances, among many others, have announced their boycott of the elections.

The letter from the EC specifies that the recruitment of assistant returning officers has not been considered, and individuals holding the position of Assistant Commissioner (Land) in the relevant upazila will be appointed as executive magistrates. In places without Assistant Commissioners (Land), individuals working in the district or divisional administrative cadre will be appointed as executive magistrates.

According to the EC’s directive, a total of 2,700 executive magistrates will be required for 4,571 unions, 328 municipalities, and 12 city corporations in the country. The feasibility of recruiting such a large number of executive magistrates simultaneously has raised questions. The former Election Commissioner, Dr. M. Sakhawat Hossain, expressed concern about the budget for the elections and questioned what benefits the EC expects to achieve by spending so much money on the recruitment of executive magistrates.

According to sources from the Ministry of Public Administration, the responsibilities of executive magistrates are currently fulfilled by Assistant Secretaries and Senior Assistant Secretaries. It is known that there are currently 1,163 Assistant Secretaries and 967 Senior Assistant Secretaries in public administration. Among them, 495 Assistant Secretaries currently perform duties as Assistant Returning Officers. Apart from this, 2,635 officials are serving as executive magistrates. Some of them hold significant responsibilities in various ministries, and some are on leave or have been appointed to various departments and offices of the government.

In this regard, the former Election Commissioner Dr. M. Sakhawat Hossain, said that there is no logic in recruiting executive magistrates without considering the Assistant Commissioners (Land) and Assistant Commissioners from the district and divisional administrative cadres. If the government desires, it can also appoint executive magistrates from the Assistant Secretaries and above ranks in the government administration cadre. Currently, the government has 1,658 Deputy Secretaries, 933 Joint Secretaries, 371 Additional Secretaries, and 27 Grade-1 and 82 Secretaries with the rank of Secretary.

It is learned that behind an executive magistrate is a daily allowance, and vehicle expenses, including fuel, resulting in an expenditure of about 9-10 thousand takas per day. Therefore, if 2,700 executive magistrates are recruited, the cost will exceed 90 crores. Regarding this, Saima Hossain, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Public Administration, said that she has not yet seen the letter from the Election Commission. However, according to demand, the Ministry of Public Administration can recruit executive magistrates for 37 days.

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