June 18, 2021

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The EC’s argument is to keep NID in their hands

The Election Commission (EC) has written to the Cabinet Division arguing that the National Identity Card (NID) registration process should be in their hands. The letter said the EC has no separate manpower and infrastructure for NID services. If the responsibility of NID is given to someone else, the service will be disrupted and there is a risk of legal complications. It would be appropriate to keep this service with the Election Commission.

The EC sent the letter to the cabinet secretary on Tuesday. A copy of the letter signed by EC Deputy Secretary (Establishment) Mohammad Enamul Haque has also been sent to the Chief Secretary to the Prime Minister and the Secretary, Department of Security Services, Ministry of Home Affairs.

Earlier on May 17, the Prime Minister’s Office sent a letter to the Cabinet Secretary to shift the NID’s registration from the EC to the Home Ministry’s Security Services Division. In response to that letter, a letter was sent on May 24 from the Cabinet Division to the EC Secretary and the Secretary of the Security Services Department. The EC replied to the letter yesterday.

The letter mentioned how the NID was prepared with the voter list through the EC, the formation of a pool fund with the help of UNDP and eight countries, the NID Registration Act 2010 giving the EC the responsibility to prepare the NID. It is said that for the proper management of the voter list database, the Election Commission Construction of Server Stations for the Electoral Database (CSSED) project through a tripartite agreement with the UNDP and the Department of Economic Relations of the government at the upazila, district, regional level electors. As per the executed agreement, these physical and technical infrastructures have been earmarked for the various levels of officials of the Election Commission.

The letter said that the constitutional power given to the Election Commission to compile the voter list was not given to any other ministry or agency, adding that it was not possible for any other ministry or agency to complete such a task. Besides, according to the Voter List Rules, 2012, the Upazila / Thana Election Officer acts as the Registration Officer.

The EC said in a letter that there is no separate manpower in the Election Commission for the preparation and management of national identity cards. Officers on deputation from the Bangladesh Army are working on smart card printing. These officers have been involved in this work since 2006. During these long 12 years, they have been made skilled and proficient through various types of training. They are officials of the Election Commission. As there is no separate manpower for National Identity Card, if these activities are assigned to another ministry, a huge manpower will be required at the field and central level, which is costly. At the same time, if they do not become skilled and proficient, an important job like national identity card will face serious problems.

The letter further said that initiatives were also taken in 2009-10 to separate the activities related to national identity card from the Election Commission. Although an organization started working for this purpose, it could not be implemented due to the above reasons. As a result, it remains with the Election Commission. Later, through the National Identity Card Registration Act 2010, its activities have been entrusted to the Election Commission.