Since the ancient times, people have been living in society. In order to stay together in the society, they have made some rules and regulations. Basically, this set of rules and regulations, created to control the actions and behavior of the public, is called law. Later on, human civilization developed. People started to select a group of people from themselves for making the laws for the country. This group of people is known as the Parliament.
The group of people, who are elected to make and change the laws of a country, is called the parliament.
Member of Parliament (MP)
The parliament includes a group of people who are supposed to create, eliminate or change the laws of a country. Each of these people is called the Member of Parliament or MP. They are generally elected from different parts of the country.
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the Member of Parliament (MP) is a person who has been elected to the parliament of a country.
In a democratic country the members of parliament are considered to be the representatives of the general public.
Duties & Responsibilities of an MP
As the post of an MP is a very important one, he/she has a wide range of responsibilities. An MP plays an extremely significant role in the context of a nation.
There are differences in the duties among MPs of various countries, but their main responsibilities are more or less the same.
The primary responsibilities of an MP are discussed below.
- MPs have to split their time between working in Parliament itself, working in the constituency that elected them.
- He/she also has to manage time for working with his/her political party.
- In the parliament meeting, his/her duty generally is to-
- Raising issues affecting their constituents
- Attending debates
- Voting on new laws
- He/she attends ceremonies; visits schools and businesses; try to meet as many people as possible to get a detailed idea about the present condition.
- The MPs are implied with accountability along with authority. He/she definitely has the power to take a decision regarding the law and execute it as well. But, he/she has to show reasons to both the government and the people for whatever steps he/she has taken. Sometimes, he/ she is bound to prove that the step is for the betterment of the nation.
Rights & Authority of the Parliament
In order to perform the duties, an MP needs to have some rights and privileges. The rights are secured by the law.
The right of the parliament is discussed below in a way generalized for almost all countries.
- An MP is an important part of a democratic country. Therefore, the most important right the MP should have is the freedom of speech. He/ she is provided with “Free Mandate” which means a special authorization given by a political electorate to its representative.
- The House of Parliament has the right to control its own procedure. The main objective behind this is to keep away the people who are suspected to be non-trustworthy for the parliament.
- The parliament preserves the right to disqualify any member and declare a seat vacant in that case. But it has to be done based on strong legal ground.
- The parliament holds the power to punish for breach of its privileges and for contempt.
- The parliament has the right to punish anyone, inside or outside the House, for acts that is offensive to the rights of the House.
Parliament of Bangladesh
Like any other country, Bangladesh has a parliament, which is named “Jatiyo Sangshad” or the National Parliament. It is a unicameral legislature which consist 300 members. Each of these MPs is directly elected from each of an equal number of territorial constituencies, which is one from each constituency, on the basis of adult franchise. Earlier there were 30 seats reserved for women who were elected by the directly elected Member of Parliament. This provision in the Constitution for the reservation of seats for women was a temporary one. The 7th Parliament was the last Parliament that had this reservation. Only the first Parliament which had 15 reserved seats for women and the fourth Parliament which had no such reservation was exceptional case. Before 8th Parliament, all Parliaments of Bangladesh had included the 30 reserved seats. In the 8th Parliament the Constitution (Fourteenth Amendment) Act, 2004 was passed by the Parliament on May 2004 by which the number of reserved seat for the women was extended to 45 and they are elected in the way same as before.
Theoretically, democracy is a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections.
The most popular definition of democracy goes:
“Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people”
– Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
16th US President
There are some basic principles of democracy. A proper democratic government should follow these principles.
- Rule of Law: It means that no one is above the law, not even its creator.
- Equality under Law: In the eyes of law, everyone is equal.
- Majority rule, Minority rights- Majority or the winning party gains the power; still the minority should have their rights protected.
- Individual rights and freedoms- Every citizen should get freedom of speech, right to be protected and so forth.
- Limitation of Government: which includes
– Accountability; which is govt. being checked by the others about their deeds.
– Separation of powers; where each branch has certain authority but not all of them.
– Federalism; which refers that the national government and state government have distinct power in a nation.
Parliamentary Democracy & Bangladesh
Bangladesh took birth in 1971 with presidential democracy, being independent from martial law of Pakistan Government. But it could not keep this democracy for long. Due to the failure of political rulers and their terrible mismanagement, the ruling power of the country went into the hands of military. Several coups took place one after another. But, after a long time of military regime, democracy was regained and parliamentary democracy was initiated.
In late 1990, however, the political situation changed dramatically. Dictatorial rule was ultimately defeated by a popular uprising, and General Ershad had to resign. Under the supervision of a caretaker government headed by Chief Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed, installed after the resignation of General Ershad, a free, fair and neutral general election was held on 27 February 1991. A truly representative Jatiya Sangsad (House of the Nation) thus appeared. In a bid to democratize the polity in Bangladesh the Sangsad considerably amended the constitution. A parliamentary system of government was proposed in the Twelfth Amendment Act in August and this was approved by a constitutional referendum on 15 September 1991.
After the establishment of this parliamentary democracy, changes were brought to many parts of the constitution. Some parts were kept unchanged.
Voting Issues for MPs
MPs are elected as representatives of the general public. After that, they practice their voting rights in the parliament to achieve something fruitful for the country.
Now, the question is what purpose dothey vote for. The issue or purposes of the voting inside the parliament are:
- While passing a bill or an act.
- While electing MPs for woman’s reserved seats.
- While editing or changing an act.
Barrier to the voting right of an MP: Article 70(1)
All the citizens of Bangladesh including the MPs have to abide by the constitution of the country. A special section of this constitution impedes the MPs from their own voting power. This section implies in the segment (1) of the article 70: “Vacation of seat on resignation, etc.”, which is included in the Charter I: “Parliament” of Part V: “The Legislature”. It goes:
“A person elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) at an election at which
he got nominated as a candidate by a political party shall vacate his seat if
he resigns from that party or votes in Parliament against that party.”
This law seriously offends the concept of democracy. But it has both pros and cons.
Pros of Article 70(1)
Although the section of the constitution is against democracy, it has a few positive sides.
- A political party is like a team. If a member plays against own team, it would be against discipline and loyalty. So, this law preserves discipline in the party.
- When a candidate gets nomination from a party, he/she is branded with its goodwill. Many voters will vote him/her for supporting the party. After getting elected, if he/she leaves the party or goes against the party, it would not be fair.
Cons of Article 70(1)
This section of the constitution has a lot of drawbacks.
- First of all it is anti-democratic. It defies the basic of democracy, “freedom of speech”. It prevents the MP from expressing own choice.
- An MP is generally elected from a constituency. His/her primary duty is to secure the rights of the people of his constituency. If the govt. takes any decision that would harm those people and if he/she belongs to the ruling party, then he/she cannot vote against that decision.
- Dictatorship does not allow people to apply their voting rights, which are being done by a party upon its MPs.
In the end, we have come to see that the article 70(1) has got both good and bad sides, but it is against democracy. It promotes discipline but sometimes individual judgment is more versatile than discipline. Besides, a trace of dictatorship in a democratic government is never preferable.
List of References
Answers.com (n.d.). Three Basic Principles of Democracy. Retrieved June 9, 2012 fromhttp://wiki.answers.com/Q/Three_basic_principles_of_democracy
Article 70(1) . Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh.
Cambridge Dictionary Online (n.d.). Member of Parliament: Definition. Retrieved June 8,
2012 from http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/british/member-of-parliament
Directgov (2012). The role and work of Members of Parliament (MPs). Retrieved june 10, 2012 from http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/UKgovernment
E. Ahamed (n.d.). The Military and Democracy in Bangladesh. Retrieved June 11 from http://epress.anu.edu.au/mdap/mobile_devices/ch07.html
Landtag Niedersachsen (n.d.). The status of members of the State Parliament. Retrieved June 11, 2012 from
Merriam Webster (n.d.). Democracy. Retrieved June 9, 2012 from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy
National web portal of Bangladesh (2012). Bangladesh Parliament. Retrieved June 11, 2012 from http://www.bangladesh.gov.bd/index.php?option=com_content&task =view&id=116&Itemid=190
Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (n.d.). Definition of Parliament. Retrieved June 8,2012 from http://oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/dictionary/parliament
PEO (April, 2012). 36 Passing A Bill. Retrieved June 11, 2012 from http://www.peo.gov.au/students/fss/fss36.html
The Free Dictionary (n.d.). Mandate. Retrieved June 10, 2012 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/mandate
Thinkexist.com (n.d.). Abraham Lincoln Quotes. Retrieved June 9, 2012 from http://thinkexist.com/quotation/democracy_is_the_government_of_the_people-by_the/6959.html
 E. Ahamed, The Military and Democracy in Bangladesh
 Article 70(1) . Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladeshv