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Bangladesh court asks govt to explain having a state religion

THE High Court of Bangladesh on Wednesday asked the government to explain why the part of the eighth amendment to its constitution approving Islam as state religion should not be declared illegal.

The court appointed 11 senior lawyers as amici curiae to place their opinions on the issue.

The HC bench of Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Gobinda Chandra Tagore issued a rule in this regard responding to a long-pending writ petition filed in 1988 by 15 distinguished citizens of the country.

The HC fixed June 16 for holding hearing on the rule.

The amici curiae who have been invited for expert opinions are Dr Kamal Hossain, TH Khan, M Amir-Ul Islam, Rafiqul Haque, Dr M Zahir, Mahmudul Islam, Rokauddin Mahmud, Ajmalul Hossain, Yusuf Hossain Humayun, AFM Mejbahuddin and Abdul Matin Khasru.

Petitioners’ counsel advocate Subrata Chowdhury told reporters that there was no scope to keep Islam as state religion in the constitution after the SC had declared illegal the fifth amendment to the constitution.

If the part of the eighth amendment involving the state religion is cancelled, the spirit of original constitution of 1972 will be restored, he opined.

The eminent people who filed the writ petition in 1988 are Begum Sufia Kamal, former chief justice Kamal Uddin Hossain, Khan Sarwar Murshid, Prof Kabir Chowdhury, Prof Dr Mosharraf Hossain, Major General (rtd) Chitta Ranjan Datta (Bir Uttam), Prof Sirajul Islam Chowdhury, Badaruddin Umar, Faiz Ahmed, Dr Borhan Uddin Khan Jahangir, Prof Anisuzzaman, Justice Devesh Chandra Bhattacharjee, Justice KM Sobhan, Syed Istiaq Ahmed and Kalim Sharafi.

Of them, Begum Sufia Kamal, Justice Devesh Chandra Bhattacharjee, Justice KM Sobhan, Syed Istiaq Ahmed and Kalim Shrafi have already died.

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