BBC Bangla, Dhaka
The Appellate Division on Sunday dismissed the appeal filed against the High Court ruling that the registration of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami as a political party was illegal.
Additional Attorney General Sheikh Mohammad Morshed confirmed this information to the BBC.
He said that the court headed by Chief Justice Obaidul Hasan rejected the appeal as there was no lawyer for the appellant in the court.
As a result of this order, Jamaat-e-Islami will not be able to participate in the upcoming national elections as a party or with party symbols.
According to the Representation of the People Act of Bangladesh, no political party can participate in elections unless it is registered with the Election Commission as a political party.
But the party can be active as an organization.
After the verdict, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Publicity Secretary Matiur Rahman Akand said in a press conference that his party has been ‘deprived of justice’ through this verdict.
So what is the party thinking about the election?
After the court’s verdict on Sunday, the question naturally arises, what is Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami thinking about the election?
Besides, what is their statement about participating in the election by party or party symbol?
Publicity Secretary of Jamaat-e-Islami Mr. Akand said in a press conference, “Due to the upholding of the High Court’s verdict (on registration), legally (party symbols) cannot be elected now. But any leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, any worker can participate in the election as an independent candidate. There is no problem.”
“And when the party gets registration, then Jamaat-e-Islami will go to the election with the party symbol,” he said.
However, he did not say anything clearly about whether Jamaat-e-Islami will participate in the upcoming 12th national elections.
Meanwhile, on November 15, the Election Commission of Bangladesh announced the schedule for the 12th parliamentary elections.
After announcing the schedule, the ruling Awami League has already started distributing party nomination forms in preparation for the elections.
However, the BNP, which is agitating for the resignation of the government for elections under a non-partisan government, has said that they will not participate in the elections.
Meanwhile, BNP’s one-time ally Jamaat-e-Islami has not given a clear statement about its position on the elections, although it has consistently supported all the programs and given the same program as BNP in recent times.
Sunday’s press conference Mr. Akand said, Jamaat has participated in all elections except 2014 and 2018 in Bangladesh.
Earlier, party leaders told the BBC that they had a policy decision not to contest the elections under the current government.
However, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Assistant Secretary General Abdul Alim told BBC Bangla at that time, “If the environment is created to participate in the elections, they are prepared to participate in it in alternative ways even if they are not registered.”
He said that Jamaat-e-Islami is an election-oriented party, so election preparations fall under their regular work.
Mr. Alim said, they are not only protesting for the downfall of the government and elections under the caretaker government. Rather, the main purpose of their movement is to bring back the voting rights of the people of Bangladesh.
What do analysts say?
However, political analysts feel that the Jamaat may have ‘alternative thoughts’ about the elections, which is why they are agitating for fair elections, despite not expressing an official position.
Jamaat-e-Islami political observer and acting editor of daily Naya Digant newspaper Salahuddin Babar told BBC Bangla that he thinks that whether Jamaat-e-Islami is registered or not, they are determined to go to the next election. For this, the party has kept all kinds of options in their hands.
He said, “The Jamaat’s alternative thinking may be to participate in the election, or boycott it. But whatever decision is taken will depend on the environment.”
In that case, if the election is held in January, everything will depend on whether it will be an acceptable election or not, he said.
Salahuddin Babar said, “Alternatives for the Jamaat include- they can form a new party. They can contest elections as independent candidates.”
And ‘if’ an ‘electoral environment’ develops in the country and Jamaat’s allies decide to go to the polls, they may consider whether or not to go to the polls.
He said, “If a new context is created, they can also form a new team. Again, they can go to some other type of negotiation (compromise) regarding the registration of Jamaat.”
He felt that they chose the option which would be the best and most convenient for the Jamaat.
However, political analyst Mohiuddin Ahmad thinks that Awami League may have an attempt to field Jamaat as an opponent of BNP.
And maybe that’s why the party was able to hold a rally without any hindrance even though it didn’t get permission on October 28, says Mr. Ahmad
Earlier, on August 1, 2013, the High Court ruled that the registration of Jamaat-e-Islami was illegal.
Then on December 8, 2018, a notification was issued canceling the party’s registration.
Jamaat-e-Islami filed an appeal against the verdict of the High Court.
After the date of hearing on him was postponed twice in November, the court dismissed it today on November 19.
However, after staying away from public political activities for almost a decade, Jamaat-e-Islami held a rally in Dhaka on June 10 this year.
There they put forward several demands – among them, the re-registration of the party, the release of Jamaat leaders and elections under a caretaker government.