The caretaker system was adopted under the 13th amendment of the constitution in 1996 to provide a free, fair and neutral election. In a country like Bangladesh where political government organise the administration and the law enforcement agencies during their tenure in such away that these elements only work in favour of the sitting regime, therefore, it was agreed that only a caretaker government can break this structure and create a balance environment for electoral administration. If we look at all of the past government, we would clearly see that election held under political government, the incumbent had always won the election, where as, election held under caretaker system, the incumbent always lost the election: people naturally blame the sitting government for failures so voting pattern shift from the incumbent government to the opposition.
When the present government came to power with a huge majority, it saw an opportunity to change the system without any challenge from the parliament; hence it took many controversial steps to amend the constitution including the caretaker system. The pretext was very simple; caretaker system had to be deleted because it was illegal, even though subsequent election after the introduction took place without any complaint. Former chief justice Khairul Haque was given the task to rule on the legality of caretaker system, and he along with other appellate judges gave a short order of the verdict on 10 May 2011 in which he scrap the system but he, and majority of the appellate division judges directed the next two parliamentary elections may be held under the 13th amendment. However, in the final judgment released after sixteen months on 16 September 2012, justice Haque directed that the caretaker government can only be formed with elected representatives. This kind of deviation by a judge from his own verdict in the short order without further hearing is a violation of the basic philosophy of justice. It was alleged that justice Haque had been spoon feed by the government to completely delete the provision in his final judgment.
We are now left with a crisis situation, one may doubt whether the situation will change and if the current regime will listen to the opposition and majority of the people who are in favour of a caretaker system. The idea of an all party government will not work because in the existing system, all the executive power is concentrated in the hand of the prime minister, the prime minister of Bangladesh exercises more power than the prime minister of UK, India or the president of the United States. The sense of history, prudence and foresight, if there is any of the major political leaders of the country could now save us from this crisis. Consensus for a non-party caretaker government is vital for peaceful and democratic transition of power in the future.
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