1.1 Bangladesh started its journey with Parliamentary System of Government, then switched over to Presidential System and in 1991 reverted back to Parliamentary system.
According to Article 65 of the Constitution there is a Parliament (known as Jatio Sangsad) in which, subject to the provisions of the Constitution, the legislative powers of the Republic are vested.
Parliament consists of three hundred members elected in accordance with law from single-member territorial constituencies. Besides this there was a provision for thirty seats reserved exclusively for women members up to the year 2000 who were elected according to law by the members of Parliament. Parliament has a tenure of 5 years unless dissolved sooner.
1.2 General Election of Members of Parliament : The general election of members of Parliament is held within ninety days after Parliament is dissolved, whether by reason of the expiration of its term or otherwise than by reason of such expiration [Article 123 (3) of the Constitution].
1.3 Qualifications and Disqualifications for Election to Members of Parliament : A person is qualified to be elected as a member of Parliament if he is a citizen of Bangladesh and has attained the age of twenty-five years.
A person is disqualified for election as, or for being, a member of Parliament who-
(a) declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind ;
(b) is an un discharged insolvent ;
(c) acquires the citizenship of, or affirms or acknowledges allegiance to, a foreign state;
(d) has been, on conviction for a criminal offence involving moral turpitude, sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years, unless a period of five years has elapsed since his release;
(e) holds any office of profit in the service of the Republic other than an office which is declared by law not to disqualify its holders; or
(f) is disqualified for such election by or under any law.
Further, Article 12 of the Representation of the People Order, 1972 provides that any elector of a constituency may propose or second for election to that constituency, the name of any person qualified to be a member under the Constitution :
Provided that a person shall be disqualified from being elected as, and from being, a member if he/she -
(a) is a person holding any office of profit in the service of the Republic or of a statutory public authority :
(b) whether by himself / herself or by any person or body of persons in trust for him/her or for his/her benefit or on his/her account or as a member of a Hindu undivided family, has any share or interest in a contract, not being a contract between a co-operative society and Government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any contract or the performance of any services undertaken by, Government; and
(c) is a bank defaulter.
1.4 Election Commission: According to Article 119 of the Constitution the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls for elections to the office of President and to Parliament and the conduct of such elections vest in the Election Commission which shall, in accordance with this Constitution and any other law -
(a) hold elections to the office of President ;
(b) hold elections of members of Parliament ;
(c) delimit the constituencies for the purpose of elections to Parliament ; and
(d) prepare electoral rolls for the purpose of elections to the office of
President and to Parliament .
The modes and procedures for holding elections to the members of Parliament are laid down in the Representation of the People Order, 1972, as amended in pursuance of law.
1.5 Candidature for More Than one Constituency and Bar against Double Membership : No person may at the same time be a candidate for more than five constituencies. The Constitution also provides that no person shall at the same time be a member of Parliament in respect of more than one Constituency. In the event of a person being elected for more than one Constituency, he shall vacate all other seats except one, as per procedure laid down in law.
1.6 Delimitation of Single Territorial Constituencies: For the purpose of holding election of three hundred Members of Parliament, the country has been divided into three hundred single territorial Constituencies in accordance with the provision of the Delimitation of Constituencies Ordinance, 1976, as amended. The procedures and principles for delimitation of each constituency are laid down in the aforesaid Ordinance. The main principles are geographical compactness of areas, administrative convenience and, as far as practicable, the distribution of population.
1.7 Electoral Roll: Article 121 of the Constitution provides that there shall be one electoral roll for each Constituency for the purposes of election to Parliament and no special electoral rolls shall be prepared so as to classify electors according to religion, race, caste or sex. Article 122 of the Constitution provides that the elections to Parliament shall be on the basis of adult franchise. A person shall be entitled to be enrolled as elector on the electoral roll for a constituency delimited the purpose of election to Parliament, if he/she –
(a) is a citizen of Bangladesh ;
(b) is not less than eighteen years of age ;
(c) does not stand declared by a competent court to be of unsound mind; and
(d) is or is deemed by law to be a resident of that constituency.
Sub-section (8) of section 7 of the Electoral Rolls Ordinance, 1982 also empowers the Election Commission to cause the electoral rolls to be re-grouped, if necessary, for the purpose of election to different elective offices.
For the superintendence, direction and control of the preparation of the electoral rolls the procedures have been prescribed in the Electoral Rolls Ordinance,1982.
1.8 Nomination :
Any elector of a Constituency may propose or second for election to that constituency, the name of any person qualified to be a member under the Constitution and the Representation of the People order, 1972.
No nomination paper is accepted unless-
a sum of Taka five thousand is deposited in cash or in the Government treasury by the candidate or by any person on his behalf at the time of submission of nomination paper.
1.10 Elections to the seats reserved exclusively for women members:
Besides the provision of three hundred seats for members of Parliament, there are thirty seats exclusively reserved for women members up to 2000 A.D. as per provisions of Clause (3) of Article 65 of the Constitution. For this purpose, a law entitled ''The Representation of the People (Seats for Women Members) Order, 1973, as amended, was framed. According to Article 3 of the Order, the Election Commission divides the country into 30 zones for election of women members. The directly elected MPs were the electors for election of women members.
1.11 Election to the Office of President : The President of Bangladesh is, according to Article 48 of the Constitution, elected by the members of the Parliament in accordance with law. The mode and procedures for holding election to the office of President are laid down in the Presidential Elections Act, 1991 and the Presidential Election Rules, 1991 made there under. The President holds office for a term of five years from the date on which he enters upon his office.
1.12 Local Body Elections:
Article 59 of the Constitution provides that the local Government in every administrative unit of the Republic shall be entrusted to bodies, composed of persons elected in accordance with law.
Existing laws and rules governing the conduct of elections to different local bodies empower the Election Commission to conduct the following local level elections :
(a) Union Parishads (Union Councils)
(b) Upzila Parishads
(c) City Corporations
(d) Pourashavas (Municipal Committees)
(e) Hill District Councils
Creation of some more local bodies is under active consideration of the present Government.
1.13 Non-party Care-Taker Government:
With the objective of ensuring free, fair and impartial general elections to Parliament, the Thirteenth Amendment Act, 1996 of the Constitution was made on 28th March, 1996 to provide for a Non-party Care-Taker Government, operative from the date on which the Chief Adviser of such Government enters upon office after Parliament is dissolved or stands dissolved by reason of expiration of its term till the date on which a new Prime Minister enters upon office after the general elections to the Parliament. The Care-Taker Government is collectively responsible to the President. The executive power of the Republic during this period, subject to the provisions of Article 58D(1) of the Constitution (discharging functions as an interim government and carrying on routine functions), vests in the Chief Adviser. The Non-Party Care-taker Government consists of the Chief Adviser at its head and not more than ten other Advisers, all of whom are to be appointed by the President. The Chief Adviser is required to be appointed, in the manner stipulated in Article 58C of the Constitution, from among the two last retired Chief Justices or from the two last retired judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court or from eminent citizens qualified to be an Adviser after consultation with major political parties. An Adviser is required to be a person qualified for election as an MP, not to be a member of any political party or of any organization associated with any political party, not be a candidate for the ensuing Parliamentary election and not over seventy two years of age. The Care-taker Government’s primary responsibility is to render to the Election Commission all possible aid/assistance that may be required for holding the general election of members of Parliament peacefully, fairly and impartially. The concept of Care-taker Government is a constitutional device to enable the holding of general parliamentary elections in a fair and impartial manner, free of any party influences on the Government machinery.