Amendments to the Constitution of Bangladesh

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The Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh was adopted and enacted on 4 November 1972, after the victory of the independent country on 16 December 1971.[1][2] As of 2018 the Constitution has been amended 17 times.[3] Amending the Constitution of Bangladesh is the process of making changes to the nation's fundamental law or supreme law.

Amendments[edit]

First amendment[edit]

Passed on 15 July 1973, the first amended was made to the Article 47 of the constitution. The amendment inserted an additional clause, Article 47(3) that allowed punishment and prosecution of war criminals under international law. A new Article 47A was also added, which specified that certain fundamental rights will be inapplicable in those cases.[4]

Second amendment[edit]

Second amendment of the constitution was passed on 22 September 1973 that suspended some of the fundamental rights of the citizens during a state of emergency.[5] The act made following changes to the constitution:

  • Amended articles 26, 63, 72 and 142.
  • Substituted Article 33.
  • Inserted a new Part IXA to the constitution.

Third amendment[edit]

Third Amendment was passed on 28 November 1974 that brought changes in Article 2 of the constitution. An agreement was made between Bangladesh and India in respect of exchange of certain enclaves and fixation of boundary lines between the countries.[6]

Fourth amendment[edit]

The amendment was passed on 25 January 1975.

  1. Amended articles 11, 66, 67, 72, 74, 76, 80, 88, 95, 98, 109, 116, 117, 119, 122, 123, 141A, 147 and 148 of the constitution
  2. Substituted Articles 44, 70, 102, 115 and 124 of the constitution
  3. Amended part III of the constitution out of existence
  4. Altered the Third and Fourth Schedule
  5. Extended the term of the first Jatiya Sangsad
  6. Inserted a new part, VIA in the constitution and
  7. Inserted new articles 73A and 116A in the constitution.

Significant changes included:

  • The presidential form of government was introduced replacing the parliamentary system.
  • A one-party system in place of a multi-party system was introduced;
  • the powers of the Jatiya Sangsad were curtailed;
  • the Judiciary lost much of its independence;
  • the Supreme Court was deprived of its jurisdiction over the protection and enforcement of fundamental rights.

Fifth Amendment[edit]

This Amendment Act was passed by the Jatiya Sangsad on 6 April 1979. This Act amended the Fourth Schedule to the constitution by adding a new paragraph 18 thereto, which provided that all amendments, additions, modifications, substitutions and omissions made in the constitution during the period between 15 August 1975 and 9 April 1979 (both days inclusive) by any Proclamation or Proclamation Order of the Martial Law Authorities had been validly made and would not be called in question in or before any court or tribunal or authority on any ground whatsoever.[7]

Sixth Amendment[edit]

This Amendment Act was passed on 10th July,1981. The Sixth Amendment Act was enacted by the Jatiya Sangsad with a view to amending Articles 51 and 66 of the 1981 constitution.[7]

Seventh Amendment[edit]

The Seventh Amendment Act was passed on 11 November 1986. It amended Article 96 of the constitution; it also amended the Fourth Schedule to the constitution by inserting a new paragraph 19 thereto, providing among others that all proclamations, proclamation orders, Chief Martial Law Administrator's Orders, Martial Law Regulations, Martial Law Orders, Martial Law Instructions, ordinances and other laws made during the period between 24 March 1982 and 11 November 1986 (both days inclusive) had been validly made, and would not be called in question in or before any court or tribunal or authority on any ground whatsoever.[8] In summary, the amendment protected Hussain Muhammad Ershad and his regime from prosecution for actions taken under the years of military rule, following the 1982 coup d'état until the 1986 presidential election.

Eighth Amendment[edit]

This Amendment Act was passed on 9th Jun,1988. The Constitution (Eighth Amendment) Act, 1988 declared, among others, that Islam shall be state religion (Article 2A) and also decentralised the judiciary by setting up six permanent benches of the High Court Division outside Dhaka (Article 100).

Twelfth Amendment[edit]

The Twelfth Amendment Act was passed on 6 August 1991, following a constitutional referendum. It amended Articles 48, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 70, 72, 109, 119, 124, 141A and 142, restoring executive powers to the Prime Minister's Office, as per the original 1972 constitution, but which had been held by the President's Office since 1974. Instead, the President became the constitutional head of the state; the Prime Minister became the executive head; the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister became responsible to the Jatiya Sangsad; the post of the Vice President was abolished and the President was required to be elected by the members of the Jatiya Sangsad. Moreover, through Article 59 of the Constitution this Act ensured the participation of the people's representatives in local government bodies.[8]

Thirteenth Amendment[edit]

The Constitution (Thirteenth Amendment) Act, 1996 introduced a non-party Caretaker Government (CtG) system which, acting as an interim government, would give all possible aid and assistance to the Election Commission for holding the general election.

Fifteenth amendment[edit]

The Fifteenth Amendment was passed on 30 June 2011 made some significant changes to the constitution. The amendment scrapped the system of Caretaker Government of Bangladesh. It also made following changes to the constitution:[9]

  • Increased number of women reserve seats to 50 from existing 45.
  • After the article 7 it inserted articles 7(a) and 7(b) in a bid to end take over of power through extra-constitutional means.
  • Restored secularism and freedom of religion.
  • Incorporated nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism as the fundamental principles of the state policy.
  • Acknowledged Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as the Father of the Nation.

Sixteenth amendment[edit]

16th amendment of the constitution was passed by the parliament on September 17, 2014 which gave power to the Jatiyo Shangshad to remove judges if allegations of incapability or misconduct against them are proved.[10] On 5 May 2016, the Supreme Court of Bangladesh declared the 16th Amendment illegal and contradictory to the Constitution.[11]

List[edit]

No. Amendments Article Proposed by Date of Proposal Passing Date Ratified by President Voting
(Favor-Against)
Objectives Comments / Summary
First *Amended Article 47
*Inserted Article 47A by section 3
Kamal Hossain 12 July 1973 15 July 1973 17 July 1973 254-0
Absent 3
47A. (1) The rights guaranteed under article 31, clauses (1) and (3) of article 35 and article 44 shall not apply to any person to whom a law specified in clause (3) of article 47 applies.
(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution, no person to whom a law specified in clause (3) of article 47 applies shall have the right to move the Supreme Court for any of the remedies under this Constitution.
To make way for prosecution of genetic crime against humanity and war crimes committed in the liberation war of 1971

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shaukat, Reema (16 December 2015). "The 1971 saga". The Nation. Retrieved 2016-03-30.
  2. ^ "Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh (Preamble)". Government of Bangladesh. 4 November 1972.
  3. ^ "17th amendment to constitution passed". www.thedailystar.net. The Daily Star. 2018-07-08. Retrieved 2018-09-06.
  4. ^ Kirsten, Sellars (22 October 2015). Trials for International Crimes in Asia. Cambridge University Press. p. 344. ISBN 1107104653.
  5. ^ Riaz, Ali (21 August 2012). Islamist Militancy in Bangladesh: A Complex Web. Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 9781134057153. Retrieved 6 May 2016.
  6. ^ "The Constitution (Third Amendment) Act". 1974.
  7. ^ a b Ahamed, Emajuddin (2012). "Constitutional Amendments". In Islam, Sirajul; Jamal, Ahmed A. (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
  8. ^ a b "Constitutional_Amendments". Banglapedia. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  9. ^ "Fifteenth Amendment introduces fusion of ideologies". The Opinion Pages. 2011-07-07. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  10. ^ "HC rules 16th amendment illegal". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  11. ^ "16th amendment illegal: HC". Prothom Alo. Retrieved 2016-05-07.