Amendment is the process to bring any formal change over the constitution-illustrate and explain.


A constitution consists of the basic rules and regulation for a certain country; by which the country runs and which is applicable over all the people of that country. The definition of law says that – “a constitution is a set of fundamental principles or established precedents according to which a state or other organization is governed. These rules together make up, i.e. constitute, what the entity is. When these principles are written down into a single or set of legal documents, those documents may be said to comprise a written constitution” (Wikipedia, 2011)[1]. It is important to have a constitution for a country as all the people of a country has to be brought under one set of unique rule and legislation. Constitution is a sacred book through which the government gets the sovereign authority. It holds all the basic rights provided for the citizens and restrictions with set of punishment which includes law and order. In short, to run a country or a community inside a boundary, the set of rules, requirements, rights, law and jurisdiction is known as the constitution.

 Constitutional Amendment:

Amendment is the process to bring any formal change over the constitution or over any particular legislation or law in the constitution for any reason. According the constitution of Bangladesh, the process of bringing any change over the constitution has to go through a series of procedure. The article 142 of Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh has provided all the necessary instructions to bring any change over the constitution (1972)[2]. The total article 142 of section 10 is here –

“142. Power to amend any provision of the Constitution

 (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Constitution-

 (a) Any provision thereof may by amend by way of addition, alteration, substitution or repeal by Act of Parliament:

Provided that-

(i) No Bill for such amendment shall be allowed to proceed unless the long title thereof expressly states that it will amend 91 a provision of the Constitution;

(ii) No such Bill shall be presented to the President for assent unless it is passed by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of Parliament;

(b) When a Bill passed as aforesaid is presented to the President for his assent he shall, within the period of seven days after the Bill is presented to him assent to the Bill, and if he fails so to do he shall be deemed to have assented to it on the expiration of that period.

 (1A) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), when a Bill, passed as a aforesaid,, which provides for the amendment of the Preamble or any provisions of articles 8, 48, 56 or this article, is presented to the President for assent, the President, shall within the period of seven days, after the Bill is presented to him, cause to be referred to a referendum the question whether the Bill should or should not be assented to.

 (1B) a referendum under this article shall be conducted by the Election Commission, within such period and in such manner as may be provided by law, amongst the person enrolled on the electoral roll prepared for the purpose of election to Parliament.

 (1C) on the day on which the result of the referendum conducted in relation to a Bill under this article is declared, the President shall be deemed to have-

(a) Assented to the Bill, if the majority of the total votes cast are in favor of the Bill being assented to; or

(b) Withheld assent therefore, if the majority of the total votes cast are not in favor of the Bill being assented to.

 (1D) nothing in clause (1C) shall be deemed to be an expression of confidence or no confidence in the Cabinet or Parliament

 (2) Nothing in article 26 shall apply to any amendment made under this article” (1972)[3].

 The constitution clearly states that the amendment has to done with the clarity of the changed material, support of two-third of total parliament members and the approval of the president of the country. The process is very difficult and complicated but due to unavoidable circumstances, this procedure can save the nation.

 Amendments of the constitution of Bangladesh

The constitution of Bangladesh was adopted in November, 1972. In last 40 years, there are total of 15 amendments which took place and all of these are discussed here:

First Amendment:

The very First Constitutional Amendment Act was accepted on July 15, 1973. It brought a significant change on article 47 of the constitution. This amendment introduced an additional clause which allowed prosecution and punishment of any person accused of ‘genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes and other crimes under international law’ (Banglapedia, 2006)[4]. After the amendment, it inserted a new Article named 47A and the purpose was to prepare laws and execute those criminals who committed genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes under international laws (BDINN, 2011)[5].

Second Amendment:

The Second Constitutional Amendment Act was also accepted in the year of 1973. On September 22, 1973, the second amendment took place which brought changes over several articles.  This act resulted in the (a) amendment of Articles 26, 63, 72 and 142 of the constitution; (b) substitution of Article 33 and (c) the insertion of a new part i.e. IXA in the constitution (Banglapedia, 2006)[6]. This amendment was accepted to assist the government to propagate emergency and suspension of fundamental rights, allow government to arrest people without trial for certain periods (BDINN, 2011)[7].

Third Amendment

The Third Constitutional Amendment Act was accepted on November 28, 1974. This amendment brought changes in article 2 of the constitution with a view to giving effect to an agreement between Bangladesh and India in respect of exchange of certain enclaves and fixation of boundary lines between India and Bangladesh (Banglapedia, 2006)[8]. To be more specific, this amendment was took place 1974 in order to implement a agreement between Sheikh Mujib and Indira Gandhi in to handover an enclave named Berubari to India (BDINN, 2011)[9].

Fourth Amendment:

The Fourth Constitutional Amendment Act was passed on January 25, 1975. Major changes were brought into the constitution by this amendment. The presidential form of government was introduced in place of the parliamentary system; a one-party system in place of a multi-party system was introduced; the powers of the national parliament were reduced; the Judiciary lost much of its independence; the Supreme Court deprived of its jurisdiction over the protection and enforcement of fundamental rights (Wikipedia, 2011)[10]. This Act (a) 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; (b) substituted Articles 44, 70, 102, 115 and 124 of the constitution; (c) amended part III of the constitution out of existence; (d) altered the Third and Fourth Schedule; (e) extended the term of the first national parliament; (f) made special provisions relating to the office of the president and its incumbent; (g) inserted a new part, i.e. part VIA in the constitution and (h) inserted articles 73A and 116A in the constitution (Banglapedia, 2006)[11].

Fifth Amendment:

The Fifth Amendment Act was passed on April6, 1979. This Act amended the Fourth Schedule to the constitution by adding a new paragraph 18 there to, 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 (Banglapedia, 2006)[12].

The expression ‘Bismillah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim’ was added before the introduction of the Constitution. The expression ‘historic struggle for national liberation’ in the introduction was replaced by ‘a historic war for national independence.’ One party system was replaced by multiparty parliamentary system. Fundamental principles of state policy were made as ‘absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah, nationalism, democracy and socialism meaning economic and social justice’ (Malik, 2011)[13].

Sixth Amendment:

The Sixth Constitutional Amendment Act was passed on July 10 in 1981 through which provision was made that offices of president, prime minister, ministers, state ministers and deputy ministers will not be considered as offices of profit (BDINN, 2011)[14].

Seventh Amendment:

The Seventh Constitutional Amendment Act was passed on November 11, 1986. This amendment brought change in the article 96 of the constitution which was to change the retiring age of the Judges of the Supreme Court was fixed at 65 in place of 62 (Malik, 2011)[15]. This amendment also changed the Fourth Schedule to the constitution by inserting a new paragraph 19 there to, “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” (Banglapedia, 2006)[16].

Eighth Amendment:

The Eighth Constitutional Amendment was passed on June 7, 1988. This amended brought changes in Articles 2, 3, 5, 30 and 100 of the constitution. This Amendment Act (a) declared Islam as of the state religion; (b) decentralized judiciary system by creating six permanent benches of the High Court Division outside Dhaka; (c) amended the word ‘Bengali’ into ‘Bangla’ and ‘Dacca’ into ‘Dhaka’ in Article 5 of the constitution; (d) amended Article 30 of the constitution by prohibiting acceptance of any title, honors, award or decoration from any foreign state by any citizen of Bangladesh without the prior approval of the president (Malik, 2011)[17].

It may be noted here that the Supreme Court subsequently declared the amendment of Article 100 unconstitutional since it had altered the basic structure of the constitution (Banglapedia, 2006)[18].

Ninth Amendment:

The Ninth Constitutional Amendment Act was accepted in July 11, 1989. This amendment provided for the direct election of the vice-president; it restricted a person in holding the office of the President for two consecutive terms of five years each; it also provided that a vice-president might be appointed in case of a vacancy, but the appointment must be approved by the National Parliament (Malik, 2011)[19].

Tenth Amendment:

The Tenth Constitutional Amendment Act was passed on June 12, 1990. It amended, among others, Article 65 of the constitution, providing for reservation of thirty seats for the next 10 years in the National Parliament exclusively for women members, to be elected by the members of the National Parliament (Wikipedia, 2011)[20].

Eleventh Amendment:

The Eleventh Constitutional Amendment Act was passed on August 6, 1991. It amended the Fourth Schedule to the constitution by adding a new paragraph 21 thereto which legalized the appointment and oath of Shahabuddin Ahmed, Chief Justice of Bangladesh, as the vice-president of the Republic and the resignation tendered to him on 6 December 1990 by the then President Hussein Muhammad Ershad (Malik, 2011)[21]. This Act confirmed and validated all powers exercised, all laws and ordinances propagated, all orders made and acts and things done, and actions and proceedings taken by the vice-president as acting president during the period between 6 December 1990 and the day (9 October 1991) of taking over the office of the president by the new President Abdur Rahman Biswas, duly elected under the amended provisions of the constitution.

The Act also confirmed and made possible the return of Vice-president Shahabuddin Ahmed to his previous position of the Chief Justice of Bangladesh (Banglapedia, 2006)[22].

Twelfth Amendment:

The Twelfth Constitutional Amendment Act, which is acknowledged as the most vital change in the history of constitutional maturity in Bangladesh, was passed on August 6, 1991. It amended Articles 48, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 70, 72, 109, 119, 124, 141A and 142 (Banglapedia, 2006)[23]. ‘Through this amendment the parliamentary form of government was re-introduced in Bangladesh; the president became the constitutional head of the state; the Prime Minister becomes the executive head; the cabinet headed by the prime minister became responsible to the National Parliament; the post of the vice-president was abolished; the president was required to be elected by the members of the National Parliament. Moreover, through Article 59 of the constitution this act ensured the participation of the people’s representatives in local government bodies, thus stabilizing the base of democracy in the country’ (Banglapedia, 2006) (Wikipedia, 2011)[24].

Thirteenth Amendment:

The Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment Act was passed on March 26, 1996. It provided for a non-party Caretaker Government which, acting as an interim government, would give all possible aid and assistance to the Election Commission for holding the general election of members of the National Parliament peacefully, fairly and impartially (Malik, 2011)[25]. The non-party caretaker government, comprising the Chief Adviser and not more than 10 other advisers, would be collectively responsible to the president and would stand dissolved on the date on which the prime minister entered upon his office after the constitution of the new Parliament (Banglapedia, 2006)[26].

Fourteenth Amendment:

The Fourteenth Constitutional Amendment Act was passed on May 16, 2004, by which the number of reserved women seats in the National Parliament was increased from 30 to 45, the age of the Supreme Court judges was increased from 65 to 67 years and provisions for putting portraits of the President and the Prime Minister at the offices of the President and the Prime minister and the Prime Minister’s portrait in government, semi-government and autonomous offices and Bangladesh missions abroad were made mandatory (BDINN, 2011)[27].

Fifteenth Amendment:

In the year of 1977, when Bangladesh was under martial law, President and Chief Martial Law Administrator Major General Ziaur Rahman passed a presidential decree that removed the principle of secularism from the permeable of the constitution and instead of it, placed “absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah”. The decree was later legitimized by the second parliament of Bangladesh. In January, 2010, the Bangladesh Supreme Court observed that parliament does not possess any authority to suspend the constitution and proclaim martial law and hence, it cannot legitimize actions of martial law regimes.

The judgment paved way for restoring the original four fundamental principles declared in the permeable of the constitution, including secularity. The Supreme Court followed with a July 2010 ruling scrapping provisions which allowed religious parties to flourish after 1979. The ruling is expected to pave the way for a return to complete secularism in Bangladeshi law (Wikipedia, 2011)[28].

 Analysis and comment

It is clear from all the amendments that a few Amendments made at one time under certain inconvenient circumstances were consequently overwritten by another Amendment and also that several of these had a wide countrywide consent. Most of the amendments were imposed and revoked due to political indifferences. It is true that sometimes people tends to believe that the constitutional amendments are caused by serious problems or good intentions. It is hard to understand the real causes of these amendments.  Since 1973, the constitution of Bangladesh has been altered, modified and edited fifteen times. Comparing to any other country, the rate of change is too high. The reasons of most of the amendments are seriously controversial and somewhat political. My opinions about all the amendments are here –

  • First Amendment: The first amendment was passed to bring all the war criminals of our liberation war of 1971 under justice. To have a fair trial for all the war criminals, the first amendment took place. This amend was made for a good cause to bring those criminals in front of justice.
  • Second Amendment: The second amend took place in a very crucial time where the economic and political condition of the country was not very good to handle. The amendment provided the government the power to declare emergency state and establishing fundamental rights during the time of emergency. The constitution was lacking of these parts and that’s why these amendments were very necessary.
  • Third Amendment: The reason of this amendment was diplomatic as the border dispute was resolved by thus amendment between Bangladesh and India.
  • Fourth Amendment: This amendment was totally political as the presidential form of government was introduced and one party ruling system was established. The judicatory system and the parliament lost the full power due to this amendment. This was said to be the last attempt of that government to save the economy and politics.
  • Fifth Amendment: Shortly after the forth amendment, the country was ruled by the armed forces of the country. This amendment gave the rulers full indemnity from any trial or action for their action. In my opinion, this was a chance for them to walk way with a lot of guilt.
  • Sixth Amendment: To be the president of the country, the vice president post and all other rights were removed by this amendment as it was a quick move for that time.
  • Seventh Amendment: This amendment was made to convert all the orders into law which were made by the president who were from the armed forces. It was not a very good thing as all the orders became law and some of them were not well judged.
  • Eighth Amendment: To decentralize the judiciary system and declare the state religion, this amendment was made. It was actually good for the country and the constitution.
  • Ninth Amendment: The conflict of electing President and Vice President at the same time was resolved by this amendment. It was also necessary for that time being.
  • Tenth Amendment: To have an election within the time frame after the president retires, this amendment was made. It was very crucial for that time as the election was inevitable.
  • Eleventh Amendment: The temporary President has to go over the post of chief Justice and that’s why this amendment was made. For that time being, it was necessary.
  • Twelfth Amendment: This amendment started the democratic and parliament based government system. It was very necessary at that time it was historic.
  • Thirteenth Amendment: To have a third party to organize the election which is known as the caretaker government was established by this amendment. It also was a landmark change of the constitution.
  • Fourteenth Amendment: This amendment provided basic rights like reserved seats for the female MPs and taking oaths for all the MPs. This amendment was also a good one to the step of democracy.
  • Fifteenth Amendment: To bring back the secularism state and triumph over the Fifth Amendment, this amendment was made. The prime reason is to bring all the war criminals in front of justice. This amendment was also historic and significant as most of the people of this country wants to see the war criminals in front of justice.


All the amendments were made after the liberation war and the time till now is too short. We passed through some rough time it was not a very welcoming journey. Within forty years, we have edited our constitution 15 times; most of them totally political and cover up the wrong doing. As a citizen of this country, I expect that all the people of this country someday understand the value of the constitution and lead toward a bright future.


 Banglapedia. (2006). Constitutional Amendments. Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Banglapedia:

BDINN. (2011, June 25). Bangladesh Constitution: from 1st to 14th amendment. Retrieved November 13, 2011, from BDINN:

Malik, D. K. (2011, January). Changes of Bangladesh Constitution: What the government is up to? . Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Sonar Bangladesh:

People’s Republic of Bangladesh. (1972). PART X: AMENDMENT OF THE CONSTITUTION. In P. R. Bangladesh, Constitution of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh (p. 51). Dhaka: People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

Wikipedia. (2011, November 12). Constitution. Retrieved November 13, 2011, from Wikipedia:

Wikipedia. (2011, October 10). Constitution of Bangladesh. Retrieved November 13, 2011, from wikipedia:

[2] Constitution of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, 1972, retrieved on 14th October, 2011.  Available at: Constitution of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka and at

[3] Constitution of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, 1972, retrieved on 14th October, 2011.  Available at: Constitution of Peoples Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka and at