This is a study on parliamentary committees with portion compose to Bangladesh. The primary ask of this document is how do parliamentary committees fulfill when situated in the political environment. Bangladesh adopt a parliamentary scheme of governing, reflecting the aspirations of the group who had struggled to accomplish elective group since the National colonial life. The Bangladesh Constitution entrusted all legislative authorization to a Parliament titled the ‘JatiyaSangsad’. Though Bangladesh started well in adopting parliamentary democracy but it did not work as it ideally should. The new scheme which Sheikh MujiburRahman named his “second revolution” was not fundamentallydiverse from the way he governed the country from 1972 to 1975.In modern democracies, parliament can play significant role in making a bridge between the government and the public. Yves Mény and Andrew Knapp noted, “If there is one symbol that stands for a representative system, it is certainly that of the Assembly, a collegial body through which the will of all (or part) of the population is expressed.Democratically elected parliaments are potentially importantbecause they represent pluralist conception so that various segments of the society can contribute to law making and monitoring the executive and set value goals for the society.
Committee system has evolved to make the parliamentary activities more effective. Parliamentary scholars like Susan R.Benda, Ingvar Mattson and KaareStrøm argued that the parliament is often large and unwieldy body of representatives; the real deliberation, takes place away from the plenary arena in much smaller groups of legislators such as parliamentary committees.For the last three decades, committee system has emerged as vibrant and important structure of the parent body.In most of the parliamentary studies, committee system is described as “miniature legislatures” or “microcosms” of the parliament.Around the world there is a trend to move towards more reliance on committees to conduct the work of parliament, and the greatest reason for this trend is a concern for efficiency.
Factors affecting the Behavior of the Members of Parliament:
(i) Political Environment
- State Structure:
- Political Situation
- Political Parties
- Interest Groups
- Civil Society
(ii) Committee Structure
- Formal-Legal Frame Work
- Committee Types
- Committee Selection Process
(iii) Committee Capacity
- Social Standing of Committee Members
- Staff and Support Services
Political party is a significant factor which affects the working of committees. Political parties that represent in the parliament called parliamentary party or group.It has been observed that the absenceof collaboration and consensus between the parties discourage to reach compromise in the committee discussions.
Bureaucracy traditionally stands in an important position in the political system of the developing countries, particularly in most of the post-colonial states. In the post-colonial states (like Bangladesh, Pakistan) bureaucracy enjoys great prestige and freedom withoutinterference from political sector. Bureaucracy thus remains unaccountable to the political institution.
For the successful functioning of the parliament, a research and training institute is necessary for providing training and orientation to the members, the parliament secretariat staff and the government officials. To meet such requirements the Bangladesh Institute of Parliamentary
Studies (BIPS) Bill was passed in the parliament in 2001 and accordingly BIPS was established in the parliament compound. The UNDP provided necessary financial and logistics supports for its initial establishment under the project of “the Strengthening Parliamentary Democracy” (SPD)
The people who to finds ways to monitor and restrain thepower of the political leaders and bureaucracy are called the dictator and their role is dictatorship. It has been observed that in the present conditions, dictators raised public concern about any misuse of power. They worked for controlling thepower of the state and corruption. The countries where electoral process and parliamentremain weak and fragile, dictators are there to improve democratic governance and making a positive relationship between the democratic state and its citizens.
Parliamentary Structure in Independent Bangladesh
After the independence of the country in 1971, the new constitution adopted the parliamentary system of the government in 1972. The constitution vested all legislative power to the parliament called the ‘Jatiya Sangsad’. According to the constitutional provisions, the Prime Minister and the cabinet were collectively responsible to the parliament and the President was made ceremonial head. Since the independence, the Bangladesh army was in state power directly and indirectly about 15 years. During these periods, three parliaments have been formed to civilianize the civil military government.
Relevant Legal principal and suggestions:
Anyone who may be watching proceedings of the Bangladesh ‘JatiyaSangsad’ might not find his time to be well-spent. The very idea of a parliament being a place where members come together and discuss an issue, try to convince fellow members to support their cause and then call for voting, is a concept alien to our parliamentary democracy. Bangladeshis have never even heard of a close vote in Parliament, let alone the government losing on a bill, no matter how unpopular a particular bill has been. Article 70 puts a bar on an MP from voting against his/her party in Parliament. Originally designed to prevent MPs from engaging in what is known as “floor-crossing”, i.e. changing party loyalty after being elected, the barrier of Article 70 is not absolute, in the sense that an MP can still vote against his party. But, the fact remains that s/he can only do so at the high cost of losing his/her Parliament membership and therefore at the same time, ceasing to be a representative of his/her people.Article 70 stands proudly and relatively unhurt, stating as follows:
A person elected as a member of Parliament at an election at which he was nominated as a candidate by a political party shall vacate his seat if he,
- Resigns from that party
- Votes in Parliament against that party; but shall not thereby be disqualified for subsequent election as a member of Parliament.”
But the 4th Amendment added two more conditions to it to strengthen the law against floor crossing. They are:
- If a member is present in the parliament but still doesn’t take part in voting.
- If a member doesn’t attend the parliament at all against the will or direction of his party.
These Amendments were to just create a situation in the parliament where the Executive has all the authority and can apply dictatorship. Here, there will be no chance of democracy. Whatever will be decided by the Executive will be final. The other members among the party can’t protest.Indirectuncertainties, however, have had no bearing on ground reality. None except one MP, so far, has taken the leap against Article 70. The practical effect of this arrangement has been sad, since the very inception of our country, successive governments have used our Parliament only as a rubber stamp to validate or legalize its pre-determined actions. A ruling party MP speaking against the government is free to speak his mind on the Parliament floor but the freedom ends once the Speaker calls for votes. From the moment vote is called, a Member of Parliament, the representative of the people, must only blindly follow the commands of his/her superiors in the party.
EFFECTS OF ARTICLE 70 IN BANGLADESH:
Contradiction among the MPs.
Lack of responsibility and scope of dictatorship.
Hinder the practice of rule of law
Contradiction in the system or constitution
Demonstration of individual research:
Once an MP is elected, they have no further legal obligation to vote in Parliament as their voters direct, instead, our Constitution dictates that directions to be obeyed by them are to come from the party that nominated them. No matter how much a representative of the people may be influenced by their constituents, they must follow their party superiors. Democracy then hits a brick wall. Floor crossing is hampering the development of the parliamentary government and stopping the rule of law. But then if it creates a lot of problems and obstacles to achieve democracy and Parliamentary government system. Then the question arise that why its not removed? One reason can be the two-third majority vote is needed to change or remove this law and not too often we see it. But, incidentally in the year 2008 Bangladesh Awami League (AL) came in power with more than two-third seat. But still we can’t see any step to remove or change this law.
Whatever may be the reason behind not changing or removing the anti-floor crossing law, but a stable and effective government system is always more important than the system.We need responsible political parties and ministers who will be responsible to the legislation and parliament.
- i. Jahan, Rounaq (1980), Bangladesh Politics: Problems and Issues, Dhaka: University Press Ltd p. 95-96.
- ii. 123, Chowdhury, Jamsed S.A. (2004), Bangladesh: Failure of A Parliamentary Government 1973-75, Dhaka: Pathak Shamabesh, p. 121.
- iii. Hasanuzzaman , Al Masud (1998), Role of Opposition in Bangladesh Politics,Dhaka: University Press Limited, p. 41.
- iv. Meny, Yves (1990), Government and Politics in Western Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.181.
- v. The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh, An Analysis of its Functioning, K.M. Mahiuddin. Research paper, p. 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 16, 23, 116, 146.
- vi. Benda, Susan R. (1996), “Committees in Legislatures: A Division of Labor”, Legislative Research Series Paper, No. 2.
- vii. National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Mattson, Ingvar and Strom, Kaare, “Parliamentary Committees”, in Herbert Döring (ed.), Parliaments and Majority Rule in Western Europe.New York: St. Martins Press, p. 249.
- viii. Strom Kaare (1998), “Parliamentary Committees in European Democracies”, Journal of Legislative Studies, Vol.4, No.1.
- ix. Laundy Philip (1989), Parliaments in the Modern World, Alder shot: Dartmouth Publishing Company Ltd., p.96.
- x. Shaw Malcolm (1998), “Parliamentary Committees Global Perspective”, in Lawrence D.
- xi. Longley and Roger H. Davidson, The New Roles of Parliamentary Committees, London: Frank Cass.
- xii. Molutsi, Patrick and Singh, Anita Inder (2002), “ Strengthening Representative Democracy: Parliamentary and Electoral System and Institutions”, International IDEA, Stockholm, available at, http://unpan1.un.org/intradoc/groups/public/documents/UN/UNPAN010202.wbk
- xiii. http://www.thedailystar.net/forum/2012/April/price.htm/
- xiv. Halim, “CONSTITUTION, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND POLITICS: BANGLADESH PERSPECTIVE.” pp.178-179.
- xv. http://www.lawyersnjurists.com/resource/articles-and-assignment/floor-crossing-law-under-bangladesh-constitution/
- xvi. Nazrul, “Article 70 and the future of parliamentary government” pp.1-3.
Jahan, Rounaq (1980), Bangladesh Politics: Problems and Issues, Dhaka: University Press Ltd pp. 95-96,
123,Choudhury, Jamsed S.A. (2004), Bangladesh: Failure of A Parliamentary Government 1973-75, Dhaka:
PathakShamabesh, p. 121. Hasanuzzaman , Al Masud (1998), Role of Opposition in Bangladesh Politics,
Dhaka: University Press Limited, p.41.
Meny, Yves (1990), Government and Politics in Western Europe, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p.181.
The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh, An Analysis of its Functioning, K.M. Mahiuddin. Research paper, p. 2, 4, 5.
Benda, Susan R. (1996), “Committees in Legislatures: A Division of Labor”, Legislative Research Series
Paper, No.2, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Mattson, Ingvar and Strøm, Kaare,
“Parliamentary Committees”, in Herbert Döring (ed.), Parliaments and Majority Rule in Western Europe.
New York: St. Martins Press, p. 249.
Strom Kaare (1998), “Parliamentary Committees in European Democracies”, Journal of Legislative Studies,
Vol.4, No.1; Laundy Philip (1989), Parliaments in the Modern World, Aldershot: Dartmouth Publishing
Company Ltd., p.96; Shaw Malcolm (1998), “Parliamentary Committees Global Perspective”, in Lawrence D.
Longley and Roger H. Davidson, The New Roles of Parliamentary Committees, London: Frank Cass.
The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh, An Analysis of its Functioning, K.M. Mahiuddin. Research paper, p. 10, 11.
The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh, An Analysis of its Functioning, K.M. Mahiuddin. Research paper, p. 16, 17
The SPD ended in 2007.
Molutsi, Patrick and Singh, Anita Inder (2002), “ Strengthening Representative Democracy: Parliamentary
and Electoral System and Institutions”, International IDEA, Stockholm, available at
The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh, An Analysis of its Functioning, K.M. Mahiuddin. Research paper, p. 94.
Halim, “CONSTITUTION,CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND POLITICS:BANGLADESH PERSPECTIVE.” pp.178-179
Nazrul, ““Article 70 and the future of parliamentary government” pp.1-3