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Charter bill makes passage to parliament

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THE much-talked-about bill for constitutional amendment, which suggests dissolution of the caretaker government system, was tabled at the parliament on Saturday.

The bill styled as ‘The Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Bill, 2011’, has been sent to the parliamentary standing committee on the law and parliamentary affairs for scrutiny.

The committee has been asked to send its feedback in two weeks.

Law Minister Shafique Ahmed placed the bill around 3:30pm, about half an hour after the House resumed session.

The bill proposes changes in the country’s charter, including scrapping of the provisions for the caretaker government system, sources in the Parliament Secretariat said.

The Supreme Court, on May 10, declared the caretaker government system unconstitutional and void, but observed that the system might be practiced to hold two more general elections for the sake of “safety of the state and its people”.

The parliamentary committee, headed by Deputy Leader of the House Syeda Sajeda Chowdhury, was working on to decide necessary changes to the constitution following SC annulment of the fifth and seventh amendment to the constitution and subsequent invalidation of the caretaker system.

The committee finalised the recommendations on June 5 which were placed before and passed by the cabinet on June 20.

The special committee recommended restoration of the four fundamental principles of the original constitution — nationalism, socialism, democracy, and secularism.

The recommendation said all other principles that spring from the four core principles of the 1972 constitution will be considered as the main principles for governing the country.

The committee recommended the highest punishment for unconstitutional usurpation of state power. Aiding and abetting such a crime will be equally punishable, it said.

After working almost a year since July 21 last year, the special committee came up with its final 51-point recommendation.

The committee proposed to constitutionally acknowledge Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the father of the nation, and to include his historic March 7 speech, and his declaration of independence in the constitution.

It proposed to maintain Islam’s status as the state religion, keep the Arabic phrase Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim above the preamble, and to keep allowing religion based politics in the constitution.

The committee proposed to mention in the constitution that followers of all other religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity will get equal rights and respect from the state.

It recommended elimination of all kinds of communalism, giving any political status to any particular religion, and misuse of religion for political purposes.

It proposed to stop displaying the portraits of the president and the prime minister in the offices of all government, semi-government, autonomous, and educational institutions, and in Bangladesh foreign missions abroad.

It however suggested making it mandatory to display the portrait of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in all those places.

The recommendations will be submitted to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her final review, said sources.


— A ban on amending the constitution’s fundamental structure.

— Scrapping of the government posts of chief adviser and advisers.

— Reinstatement of Bangalee nationalism in the constitution. Identification of the nation as Bangalee, and citizenship as Bangladeshi.

— Introduction of a new clause for safeguarding and developing the environment and wildlife, under which the state will protect natural resources, biodiversity, water bodies, forest, and wildlife, and preserve and develop the environment for the present and future generations.

— The state will ensure participation of and equal opportunity for women in all spheres of national life.

— The state will take steps to flourish, develop and preserve the unique characteristics, regional culture, and heritage of the indigenous, ethnic minority people.

— Scrapping of clause 25 that says the state will endeavour to consolidate, preserve and strengthen fraternal relations among Muslim countries based on Islamic solidarity.

— Increasing the number of reserved seats for women in the parliament to 50 from the current 45.

The cabinet in a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair approved the draft of much-talked-about constitution amendment bill on June 20.


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