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Thursday, July 22, 2010

15-member committee formed to review constitution

Courtesy: New Age, Dhaka, front page, lead news, 22 July 2010,

Headline of the news
15-member committee formed
to review constitution
No opposition representative on committee

Staff Correspondent

The parliament on Wednesday instituted a 15-member special committee composed of lawmakers of the ruling Awami League-led alliance to review the amendments made so far to the constitution.
The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, piloted the motion for the special parliamentary committee in the house to examine the amendments to the constitution and to recommend further amendments to the constitution to uphold the Supreme Court verdict that had declared illegal the fifth amendment to the constitution.
‘Amendments to the constitution are extremely necessary to consolidate people’s rights so that state power cannot be usurped and the rights of the people cannot be trampled,’ she said as she placed the proposal for the formation of the committee under Rule 266 of the Rules of Procedure.
Hasina said military rulers had amended the constitution in their own interests and it had become essential to bring about some changes in the constitution for the welfare of the people.
‘The martial law,’ she said, ‘is such a law which does not exist in the constitution and the Army Act or rules. But the amendments to the constitution were brought through promulgation of the martial law ordinance when there was no representation of the people.’
The deputy leader of the house, Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, was made the chairman and the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the law ministry, Surunjit Sengupta, was made co-chairman of the special committee.
Others on the committee are Awami League lawmakers Amir Hossain Amu, Tofail Ahmed, Abdur Razzak, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim, LGRD and cooperatives minister Syed Ashraful Islam, former law minister Abdul Matin Khasru, the chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the local government ministry M Rahmat Ali, state minister for women and children affairs Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury, state minister for environment Hasan Mahmud, Fazley Rabbi Miah of the Awami League, Anisul Islam Mahmud of Jatiya Party, Workers Party president Rashed Khan Menon and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal faction president Hasanul Haq Inu.
There is no representative of the opposition on the committee.
Hasina, however, said the committee might consult constitutional and legal experts in the preparation of the report.
The committee can also invite anyone it feels necessary to its meetings.
The leader of the house, however, did not set any deadline for the committee to submit its report to the house.
The government earlier asked the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party to name a representative by Tuesday. But the party boycotted the special committee.
The BNP secretary general, Khandaker Delwar Hossain, at a briefing on Wednesday said that the formation of the all-party committee to review the constitution ‘is beyond the constitution and the Rules of Procedure of the parliament as well’.
‘There is no rule on the formation of such committee in the Rules of Procedure,’ he said.
Bangladesh’s constitution adopted on November 4, 1972 had undergone 14 amendments.
Seven of the amendments were done by military governments after the assassination of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975 and before the country returned to a democratic system in 1990.
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on February 2 upheld the High Court verdict that had declared illegal the
fifth amendment to the constitution brought through a martial law proclamation after August 15, 1975.
The High Court bench of Justice ABM Khairul Huq and Justice ATM Fazley Kabir on August 29, 2005 delivered the verdict declaring illegal and void the fifth amendment and the martial law regulations proclaimed between August 15, 1975 and April 1979.
The verdict, however, said, ‘…all acts and things done and actions and proceedings taken during the period from August 15, 1975 to April 9, 1979, are condoned as past and closed transactions.’
According to the verdict, such matters will not be deemed illegal or void under the declaration the court has made.
It also said, ‘Condonation of provisions was made, among others, in respect of provisions, deleting the various provisions of the fourth amendment but no condonation of the provisions was allowed in respect of omission of any provision enshrined in the original constitution. The Preamble, Article 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 25, 38 and 142 remain as it was in the original constitution. Besides Article 95, as amended by the Second Proclamation Order No IV of 1976, is declared valid and retained.’

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