MINISTERIAL RESPONSIBILITY UNDER BANGLADESH CONSTITUTION
Every country in this world wants its government to establish as a result of the people’s benefit. People of a country trust the government to assure their safety and believe that the government work for their betterment. Because of this government the people of the country get united. It is the government of the country who teaches its citizen about ethics and moral values. Now as the world population is getting massive its becoming difficult for the government to safeguard everyone. The problem is resolved by developing hierarchy among government officials where each should know its responsibility. Starting from the highest ranked President to the lower order minister or government officials, everyone should know his duty and are hope to deliver the best in order to avail an overall development of the country. Among the hierarchy which has been discussed, ministers play an important role. Any modern state stands on three basic pillars: executive, judiciary and legislature. Most of the newly independent states, while adopting their constitutions, have been vigilant about giving attention to the type, nature, and powers of the executive branch of the government. Several models are there to fashion the details of the executive. Different nations may have different ministerial designation but over here the most common has been used. In another words, the ministers of a country runs the whole country. Most widely known, British law has two main constitutional conventions that govern the activities of government ministers, namely collective responsibility and individual ministerial responsibility.
The convention of collective Cabinet responsibility emphasizes the unanimity of the government and its accountability to Parliament. The classic expression of collective responsibility remains that of Lords Salisbury:
“For all that passes in Cabinet every member of it who does not resign is absolutely and irretrievably responsible and has no right afterwards to say that he agreed in one case to a compromise, while in another he was persuaded by his colleague….It is only on the principle that absolute advantage is undertaken by every member of the Cabinet, who after a decision is arrived at, remain a member of it, that the joint responsibility of Ministers of Parliament can be upheld and one of the essential principles of parliamentary responsibility established”.[Official Report, HC Cols 833-34,8 April 1878]
Two principle sub-rules underlie collective responsibility. The first rule is that, once an agreement is reached in Cabinet, all the members of Cabinet and many outside Cabinet are bound to speak in support of the decision. There should be no criticism or dissent from the decision in public, irrespective of whether or not the particular member of Cabinet was party of the discussion. Equally, if a decision is reached by the Prime Minister in Cabinet Committee or the Inner Cabinet when only a small handful of members are present, the decision binds all. The second supporting rule is that records of Cabinet discussion are absolutely secret. The knowledge that Cabinet records are protected by confidentiality enhances the opportunity for members of Cabinet to discuss matters freely, secure in the knowledge that their personal point of view, whatever the decision, will be protected from the public gaze.
These principles are expressed the Ministerial Code in the following manner:
“Collective responsibility requires that ministers should be able to express their views frankly I the expectation that they can argue free in private while maintaining a united front when decisions have been reached. This in turn requires that the privacy of opinions expressed in Cabinet and Ministerial Committees should be maintained. Moreover, Cabinet and Committee documents will often contain information which needs to be protected in the national interest. It is therefore essential that subject to the Act 2000, ministers take the necessary steps to ensure that they and their staff preserve the privacy of Cabinet business and protect the security of government documents.”[Cabinet Office, 1992, 2005, para 6.17]
It is the minister who represent the public face of the department and who speaks for the department in parliament. Individual responsibility is defined as the ministers in charge of a Department are alone answerable to Parliament for the exercise of the powers on which the administration of the Department depends.
Lord Morrison viewed the doctrine equally strictly:
“………a minister is accountable to Parliament for anything he or his department does or for anything he has powers to do, whether he does it or not. That is to say, if the action or possible action is within the field of ministerial power or competence, the minister is answerable to Parliament” [1964, p 265].
Presidential Role in Bangladesh:
Bangladesh follows the Presidential and the parliamentary models of executive. The legal basis of the Bangladesh provisional government, established on 10 April 1972, was provided by the proclamation of independence which was to take effect from 26 March 1971.The constitution, established under this proclamation, created an all-powerful Presidential executive. Both executive and legislative powers, including the power to grant pardon, were vested in the President. He had the power to appoint a prime minister and other ministers, if he considered it necessary to do so. The power to summon and dissolve the assembly, as well as that of levying taxes and making expenditures, was exclusively vested in him. Furthermore, the President was entitled to do whatever was felt necessary for the sake of the people of Bangladesh. The proclamation created an all powerful Presidential executive in the context of the extraordinary circumstances prevailing during and after the war of liberation.
Cabinet minister and Prime minister:
There shall be a Cabinet for Bangladesh having the Prime Minister at its head and compromise such other Ministers as the Prime Minister may from time to time designate. The executive power of the republic shall be in accordance with this constitution be exercised by or on the authority of the Prime Minister. The cabinet should be collectively responsible to Parliament. All executive actions of the Government shall be expressed to be taken in the name of the President, the President shall by rule specify the manner in which orders and other instruments made in his name shall be attested or authenticated and the validity of any order of instrument so attested or authenticated shall not be questioned in any court on the ground that it was not duly made or executed.
Ministers under Bangladesh Constitution:
According to the constitution of the people’s republic of Bangladesh, there shall be a Prime Minister and such other Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers as may be determined by the Prime Minister. The appointments of the Prime minister and other Ministers, Ministers of State and Deputy Ministers shall be made by the President:
Provided that not less than nine tenth of their number shall be appointed from among members of Parliament and not more than one tenth of their numbers may be chosen from among persons qualified for election as members of Parliament. The President shall appoint as Prime Minister the members of Parliament who appears to him to command the support of the majority of the members of Parliament. The president shall make rules for the allocation and transaction of the business of the government.
The elected ministers govern Bangladesh with the aid of a permanent bureaucracy. The ministers remain at the helm of ministries or divisions which are manned by civil servants recruited by the Public Service Commission. The ministries perform regulatory policy-making functions while the numerous subordinate offices execute Government policies and decisions at the field level.
Rules of Business:
Rules of Business (ROB) made by the President of the constitution for allocation and transaction of business of the government have laid down the power and functions of a Minister. All business allocated to a ministry / division shall be disposed of by, or under the general or special directions of the Minister-in-charge subject to the condition that the cases requiring the approval of the Cabinet, the Prime Minister and the President shall have be submitted to them. The Minister is responsible for conducting the business of his ministry/division in the parliament. It may be noted that the rules of procedure (ROP) made and adopted by parliament of the constitution has elaborated the procedure for conducting the business of a ministry in parliament by the Minister-in-charge. The responsibilities of a Minister in parliament in respect of his ministry include, inter alia, moving for leave to introduce a bill, answering of written and oral questions, moving resolutions relating to matters of general public interest and making statements on matters of urgent public importance. The constitution and the ROB have determined the limit of the executive power of the Prime Minister. The executive power that the Prime Minister can exercise independent of others include, among others, appointment, resignation, and removal of chairmen and members of any non-statutory commission; appointment, promotion, transfer and posting of officers in certain civil and military posts; grant of permission to certain categories of public servants for private visits abroad for treatment, pilgrimage, etcetera; nominating Bangladesh citizens to important posts on executive and other organs of international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, etcetera; sending messages to heads of foreign governments; sending delegation to international assemblies and conferences; yearly retention of temporary posts in the revenue set up and transfer of temporary posts to permanent set up in the revenue budget.
In a parliamentary form the cabinet headed by the Prime Minister is responsible to parliament. According to the ROB, no important policy decision shall be taken except with the approval of the cabinet. In particular, cases or proposals relating to legislation including the promulgation of ordinance, appointment of public commissions of inquiry of national importance, commencement or cessation of a state of war, proclamation or renovation of emergency, budget, creation of new corporations or companies, vital political, economic and administrative policies, shall be brought before the cabinet for decision. The Prime Minister has to depend upon her cabinet colleagues for taking decisions on all such cases.
Ministry of Home Affairs:
The Home Affairs Ministry controls the police and paramilitary forces, which have primary responsibility for internal security. The army is responsible for external security but also occasionally has been given domestic security responsibilities. The Government created a new police unit, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), composed of personnel from different law enforcement and security agencies, including the military, to deal with violent criminals. The civilian authorities maintained effective control of the security forces. The RAB and security forces committed human rights abuses and were rarely disciplined, even for egregious actions. Police were often reluctant to pursue investigations against persons affiliated with the ruling party, and the Government frequently used the police for political purposes. Members of the security forces committed numerous serious human rights abuses.
Ministry of Communication:
BRTC, the sole State Owned Enterprise (SOE) in road transport sector, needs to be infused with skill, fair sense of discipline and dynamism for its efficient management to play stronger and more strategic role. Planning and coordination of transport infrastructure facilities and traffic management interventions across greater Dhaka are the core responsibilities of Dhaka Transport Coordination Board (DTCB). The Government through DTCB has launched Strategic Transport Plan (STP) for safer and more efficient Transportation System. The Government has already set out comprehensive ICT policy purporting to project its functional and virtual profile as transparent, readily responsive and Client welfare oriented. Under the framework of the ICT policy, the Roads and Railways Division has also launched their own website few years back. The most pressing needs of the moment are to improve upon our client-focused service and integrate the participation of stakeholders from the grassroots.
The Roads and Railways Division under Ministry of Communication has got all set to frame out a client-oriented website with commitment to its efficient management. We could harness the potentials of ICT to its best; we can overcome the age old, restrictive and secretive traits of out colonial administrative culture. The recently promulgated Information Ordinance and other pro-people polices provide enough rooms for exploration of ICT resources. We are contemplating to deploy a full time Grievance Manager in order to meet the public questions and queries at large.
Ministry of Defense:
It is under the control of the Honorable Prime Minister. This ministry deals with the budget, statutory and regulatory matters and to certain extent establishment and administration subjects of the armed services. Moreover other organizations including the inter-services departments are under the regulatory control of this ministry. During the care-taker govt. MOD works under the control of the Honorable President of the republic. Defense Services of Bangladesh and Armed Forces attached to or operating with any of the Armed Forces of Bangladesh excluding planning, co-ordination and arrangement of mobilization of the defense services on declaration of national emergency/war and co-ordination and control of the activities of the defense services when deployed in aid of civil administration. It performs Army, Naval and Air Force Works and production of cypher documents. Also perform Hydrographic Surveys and preparation of navigational charts (excluding Hydrographic surveys in the inland water of Bangladesh and preparation of charts for inland navigation). Liaison with International Organization and matters relating to treaties and agreements with other countries and world bodies relating to subject allotted to this ministry. Perform all laws on subjects allotted to this ministry, inquires and statistics on any of the subjects allotted to this ministry. Collect fees in respect of any of the subjects allotted to this ministry except fees taken in courts and prepare budget legal and statutory matters of the Armed Forces.
Ministry of Education:
The overall responsibility of management of primary education lies with the Primary and Mass Education Division (PMED), set up as a separate division with the status of a Ministry in 1992. While the PMED is involved in formulation of policies, the responsibility of implementation rests with the Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) headed by a Director General.
The Directorate of Primary Education (DPE) and its subordinate offices in the district and upazila are solely responsible for management and supervision of primary education. Their responsibilities include recruitment, posting, and transfer of teachers and other staff; arranging in-service training of teachers; distribution of free textbooks; and supervision of schools. The responsibility of school construction, repair and supply of school furniture lies with the Facilities Department (FD) and Local Government Engineering Department (LGED). The National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) are responsible for the development of curriculum and production of textbooks. While the Ministry of Education (MOE) is responsible for formulation of policies, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE) under the Ministry of Education is responsible for implementing the same at secondary and higher education levels. The NCTB is responsible for developing curriculum and publishing standard textbooks.
Primary and secondary level management
The primary and secondary levels of education are controlled by the six General Education Boards, each covering a region. The boards’ headquarters are located in Barisal, Comilla Chittagong, Dhaka, Jessore, Rajshahi and Sylhet. In addition, the Madrasah Education Board covers religious education in government-registered Madrasahs, and the Technical Education Board controls technical and vocational training in the secondary level.
Six region-based Boards of Intermediate and Secondary Education (BISE) are responsible for conducting the two public examinations, SSC and HSC, in addition to granting recognition to non-government secondary schools.
At the school level, in the case of non-government secondary schools, School Management Committees (SMC), and at the intermediate college level, in the case of non-government colleges, Governing Bodies (GB), formed as per government directives, are responsible for mobilizing resources, approving budgets, controlling expenditures, and appointing and disciplining staff. While teachers of non-government secondary schools are recruited by concerned SMCs observing relevant government rules, teachers of government secondary schools are recruited centrally by the DSHE through a competitive examination.
In government secondary schools, there is not an SMC. The headmaster is solely responsible for running the school and is supervised by the deputy director of the respective zone. Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs), however, exist to ensure a better teaching and learning environment.
Tertiary education management
At the tertiary level, universities are regulated by the University Grants Commission. The colleges providing tertiary education are under the National University. Each of the medical colleges is affiliated with a public university. Universities in Bangladesh are autonomous bodies administered by statutory bodies such as Syndicate, Senate, Academic Council, etc. in accordance with provisions laid down in their respective acts.
Ministry of Finance:
The Ministry of Finance is responsible for over-seeing the function of the financial institutions of the country and also plans implement and control public expenditure policies and programs of the Government. Both fiscal and monetary policies fall under its jurisdiction. A number of measures have been undertaken by the Government during the nineties to strengthen the banking system. These include improvement of legal and regulatory framework, passage of the Bankruptcy Act, 1997 and the Loan Court Amendment Act by Parliament, enforcement of loan classification guide-lines, recapitalization of nationalized commercial banks and the formation of Banking Reform Committee. The Government is keen to correct and remedy past failures and imperfections in the financial markets. The reforms of the financial sector and trade liberalization are being complemented by an appropriate foreign exchange measures. An active exchange rate policy to maintain the competitiveness of the economy is also being followed.
The local currency Taka has been made convertible in all current account transactions. Laws have been amended to boost private and foreign investment in the financial sector. A number of foreign banks and financial institutions are already active in the country. Two stock Exchanges in Dhaka and Chittagong are also fully operational.
Ministry of Housing and Public works:
The Ministry of Housing and Public works is entrusted with the task of carrying out public sector construction activities and looking after urbanization, city development housing settlement aspects throughout the country. Housing is an important growth sector having backward and forward linkages, because of ever-increasing demand, the sector the tremendous potentials. A large number of property developers are already active in the private sector. The state-owned House Building Finance Corporation (HBFC) has been made fully operational for ensuring adequate credit flow to this sector on easy terms. A National Housing policy has been adopted which calls for providing shelter to the poor, the homeless and the needy. The policy stipulates setting up of National Housing Authority and a special Housing Bank.
However, constitutional provisions have been incorporated in order to ensure the dominance of the Prime Minister. A new clause has been added so that the lack of democratization within the major political parties makes the Prime Minister’s position virtually become unchallengeable. Further, the mode of election of the President has been made in such a way that unless a person is nominated and approved by the Prime Minister he or she cannot be elected, thus making the relationship between the President and the Prime Minister not one of equals. It seems that the President is almost subordinate to the Prime Minister. As such the executive in Bangladesh, at present, is overridingly Prime Ministerial.
- Sen and Mitra’, 2006, ‘Commercial Law and Industrial Law.’
- Nava Thakuria, ‘Empowering Judiciary in Bangladesh’, Citizen News Service. Retrieved on October10, 2010 from
- Law of Bangladesh (2010, 24 September). Retrieved on October 10, 2010 from Wikipedia:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Bangladesh
- Ministry of Housing and Public works,’ ‘Government of the people’s republic of Bangladesh.’ Retrieved on November 6, 2010 from http://www.mohpw.gov.bd/mohpw_msg_minister.php
- Finance Division,’ ‘Minister of Finance’, Retrieved on November 6, 2010 from http://www.mof.gov.bd/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=66&Itemid=1
- Banglapedia,’ ‘National encyclopedia of Bangladesh’ Retrieved on November 6, 2010 from http://bpedia.org/E_0079.php
- Mackintosh, 1977, Chapter 2’, Marshall, 1984, Chapter IV.
- A.K.M. Siddique, ‘The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh’, p- 37, Paragraph-2.
- India to expand railway connectivity with Bangladesh,’ ‘The Economist Times’ Retrieved on November 6, 2010 from
- Hilaire Barnett, ‘Constitutional and Administrative law’, p- 281, Paragraph-2.
- M Abdul Latif Mondal, ‘Appointing the Advisor’, The Daily Star, Vol 5.
- M. Sirajul Islam, ‘Civil Society and Bangladesh’s Foreign Policy Objectives’, CFAS.
- Meet Bangladesh,’ ‘Discovery Bangladesh’ Retrieved on November 6, 2010 from
style=”text-align: justify;” size=”1″ />
2See, Hilaire Barnett, ‘Constitutional and Administrative law’, p- 281, Paragraph-2.