We need to have some conclusion for our amendment of the constitution so that it can have only the positive influences for our politics, people as well as for the government-illustrate and explain.
To illustrate the above topic first we need to know the definition of the constitution and the manning of the amendment of the constitution. The constitution refers “The fundamental law, written or unwritten, that establishes the character of a government by defining the basic principles to which a society must conform; by describing the organization of the government and regulation, distribution, and limitations on the functions of different government departments; and by prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of its sovereign powers.” On the other hand Amendment refers minor alteration or addition in a document.
2. The Constitution of Bangladesh:
The constitution of Bangladesh first has been created by the Constituent Assembly on 4th November, 1972. We actually can say that this is the supreme law of Bangladeshi people and citizens. The constitution of the Bangladesh declares Bangladesh as a secular democratic republic. The constitution also showed sovereignty belongs to the people and spells out the fundamental rights of citizens. On the other hand the constitution of Bangladesh also defined the fundamental political principles of the state. The constitution proclaims nationalism, democracy, socialism and secularity as the fundamental principles of the Bangladeshi republic. When adopted in 1972, it was one of the most liberal constitutions of the time.
3. Noticeable changes of 15th amendment of the Constitution of Bangladesh:
The Parliament of Bangladesh has passed the 15th Amendment Bill of the Constitution on 30th June 2011. In this amendment we can see some significant features.
· One of the main features of this 15th amendment was election under the Caretaker Government System abolishing. About the abolition of the provision of the non-party caretaker government system, the bill said in the constitution, article 58B of Chapter IIA, Non-party caretaker government shall be omitted.
· The Elections will be held under incumbent cabinet.
· The bill also proposed for retaining Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim and Islam as state religion at the same time keeping the scope for religion-based politics.
· Renewal of Article 12 to restore Secularism and freedom of religion.
· The people of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangalees as a nation and citizens of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshis.
· Inserted articles 7A and 7B in the Constitution after Article 7 in a bid to end takeover of power through extra-constitutional means.
· Basic provisions of the constitution are not amendable.
· In the case of a dissolution Parliament by any reason, election should be held within 90 days of such dissolution.
· Increasing the number of women reserve seats to 50 from existing 45.
· The Supreme Command of the defense services shall vest in the President and the exercise thereof shall be regulated by law.
· The Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President, and the other judges shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Chief Justice.
· The portrait of the Father of the nation Bangbandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman shall be preserved and display at the offices of the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker, and the Chief Justice and in head and branch offices of all government and semi-government offices, autonomous bodies, statutory public authorities, government and non-government educational institutions, embassies and missions of Bangladesh abroad.
· Incorporation of historic speech of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on March 7, 1971, declaration of independence by Bangabandhu after midnight of March 25, 1971 and the proclamation of Independence declared at Mujibnagar on April 10, 1971.”
4. Influence of the amendments of the constitution of Bangladesh:
From the above features of the 15th amendment of the constitution of Bangladesh it is observed that a couple of Amendments made at one time. Actually this 15th amendment of the constitution come by subsequently removed another Amendment. On the other hand if we deeply analyze it we can see that this amendment also has several broad nationwide consensuses.
A. Abolishing the Non- Party Caretaker System influence the Politics and Political Parties:
15th amendment abolished the non-party caretaker government system at the same time it allows general elections under elected partisan governments. Here the main opposition was the opposition party BNP. They term this abolishing of the non- party caretaker system as throwing the country into a political confrontation.
B. “Retaining of BISMILLAH-AR-RAHMAN-AR-RAHIM (In the name of Allah) in the preamble of the constitution influence the other religion people of Bangladesh.
The current government of the Bangladesh wants to amend the present Constitution, because according to them, the Constitution was made Communal by introducing the words Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim in the preamble and by making Islam the state religion at the expense of the principle of Secularism.
C. Recalling of ISLAM as state religion influence the minority religious groups:
According to the thought of the other religion people such as minority religious people of Bangladesh, Islam alone cannot be the state religion as there are several followers of the other religions such as Hindu, Christian, Bouddha and Indigenous Practices.
D. The Nationality and Citizenship Article influence the minority groups:
The fifteen amendment bill proposed that, the People of Bangladesh shall be known as Bengali as a nation and the citizens of Bangladesh shall be known as Bangladeshis. In this case the minority groups of tribal of Bangladesh do not want to be known as Bangali because they thought that in this way their own national identity will get lost during the pass of the time.
E. Religion Based Politics influenced the People of Bangladesh:
“The latest amendment also allowed religion based politics which had been banned on papers last year after the cancellation of the 5th amendment. The 5th amendment’s cancellation had restored the ban imposed by the original 1972 constitution”.
F. Secularism as one of the four fundamental principle of the state influence the several religious people of Bangladesh:
The 15th amendment bill of the constitution of Bangladesh restored secularism as one of the four fundamental principles of the state which had been omitted by a martial law regime after the 1975. This is actually influence the several religious group of Bangladesh.
G. Steps against the Military Takeover of state power positively influence the People of Bangladesh:
The Parliament of Bangladesh took a courageous step against military takeover of state power. It means that the interruption or termination of any provision of the constitution will have severe punishment.
H. Unchangeable Constitution’s Preamble influence the government and the politics of Bangladesh:
Constitution’s preamble of Bangladesh cannot be amended and it was declared by the 15th amendment. It actually means, basic structure of the preamble of the constitution of Bangladesh cannot change. And some other specific provisions including the just introduced one which makes it mandatory to display the portrait of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in all government offices.
I. Election under the current government influence the politics, people and the government as well:
“After yesterday it is now clear that the next parliamentary election will be held under the Awami League-led government. According to the latest amendment, the next parliamentary election will be held within 90 days prior to the current parliament’s dissolution. This means the 10th parliamentary elections will be held at the end of 2013 or at the beginning of 2014 as the tenure of the current parliament will expire on January 24, 2014.”
J. Inactive Parliament during 90 days’ time prior to next national election might influence the politics and government of the Bangladesh:
Throughout these 90 days after the dissolution of the current parliament actually the parliament will remain inactive. In details we can say it will not have any activity as the latest amendment limited its power and functions for that period. But here one thing we need realize that the amendment did not limit the power of the outgoing cabinet during the election. After the election is held, the lawmakers-elect will not assume office until the five-year tenure of the outgoing parliament expires.
K. Election Commission under the guidance of the current government might influence the Political parties:
As the amendment introduced new provisions to make the Election Commission stronger to hold parliamentary polls, other political parties might go against the Election Commission. On the other hand as in case of any election dispute, courts must hear the EC’s view before issuing any order so other political can claim that election commission was not fair enough. On the other hand the main opposition currently wants to have the just scrapped caretaker system not to abolish. They said, after dissolution of a parliament the elected government would hand over power to a non-partisan caretaker government that would provide all sorts of cooperation to the EC to hold a general election within 90 days of the parliament’s dissolution, to constitute a new House.
L. Increase the number of reserved seats for women will positively influence the people:
The amendment increased the number of reserved seats for women in parliament to 50 from current 45, and restored the original article 70 of the constitution allowing MPs to remain absent from the House if she or he does not want to cast vote on any issue in line with her or his party’s decision.
M. Increased Criticism of the people about the amendment:
Dr Kamal Hossain and Shahdeen Malik said the government committed a “despicable offence” by going against the fundamental rights of the people. The discussants comprising constitutional experts, jurists, politicians, and leaders of the civil society also observed that the latest amendment to the constitution created instability in the society.
N. Main opposition political party is against the 15th amendment of the constitution of Bangladesh:
The BNP-led main opposition, some smaller components of the ruling alliance, some other political parties, and many eminent citizens sharply criticized the abolishment of caretaker government system, saying it will throw the country into a political confrontation. They also criticized on banning on amending the constitution’s preamble and its basic structure.
“The fundamental rights of the people were made unchangeable by the new amendment, the path to increased rights of the people have been blocked by it,” said Shahdeen Malik. On the other hand “the amendment limited the people’s freedom of speech and their ownership on the constitution, by incorporating some new clauses. Dr Kamal said the people are the owners of the constitution and the country, and they have the absolute power over the constitution and the country, but now by amending the constitution the people’s representatives are saying the people are not the owners.”
Since the amendment made sections of the constitution unchangeable, good laws like for protection of the environment or for child education, will not be includable anymore.
We all know that in the constitution of Bangladesh the 15th amendment has been take place on 30th June, 2011 by the Bangladesh Parliament. The amendment made some dramatic changes in the constitution that includes abolition of the caretaker government, setting some unchangeable clause in the constitution, dropping of the people’s mandate on any national issues and barring the criticism of the constitution. So we can see that, the amendment influence the government, politics and the people of Bangladesh in a significant way. Some of them were positive some of them were some sorts of negative impact. From the above analysis I already have discussed the several influences with strong reference. And now it’s time to have good recommendation for the problems.
Though the attention of the politicians was more focused on the caretaker Government Issue but the other issues are not less important. Gradually the legal experts and citizen groups are expressing their voice on these issues. So government should take some necessary steps to solve those minor or the major issues of the amendment of the constitution.
To solve the current problems about the 15th amendment of the constitution of Bangladesh is not so easy. From the above analysis we can understand that there is some lack the 15th amendment has and we need to resolve those. Here one of the good recommendations can be analyze the problems in a simple word and inform the general people. On the other and try to inform the government about the problems exist in the current amendment of the constitution of Bangladesh through the printing and broadcasting media.
A Seminar on “The Constitution 15th Amendment and its Impact” held on Saturday, July 09, 2011 at the university’s seminar room. In that seminar a Renowned Constitutional expert Dr. Shahdeen Malik said that, our history has corrected and the spirit of the nation’s freedom fight reflected by the 15th amendment of Bangladesh Constitution. However, it has failed to strengthen the essentials of good governance and rule of law. And we all know that for a nation this rule of law is very much essential.
Constitution is the vision of a society expressed in legal terms and it also outlines the fundamental institutions of the country and it was mentioned in the speech of Dr. Shahdeen Malik at the same seminar. “According to him, the important visions that are revived in the 15th amendment is the restoration of ‘historic struggle for national liberation’ in place of ‘a historic war for national independence’ and the inclusion of the proclamation of independence in the Constitution. He however criticized the 15th amendment provisions which have made panel provisions in Article 7(A) for any dissent or criticism of any of the provisions of the Constitution and the deletion of caretaker government system from the Constitution.”
A good constitutional amendment has to strengthen protection of Human Rights, enhance good governance, ensure people’s participation and provide enforceability to certain economic rights which the 15th amendment has largely failed to accomplish.
On the other hand government should change the provision which go against the people of Bangladesh. And which shows unfairness to the general people of Bangladesh. At the same time government also need to follow proper steps in modifying the latest change of the constitution of Bangladesh.
While amending the charter, the difference between the constitution and an ordinary law must be understood. The constitution is the foundation of all laws for the state. It provides the framework, some elements of which may be irrevocable, for the organization of government and establishes the stringent structure, referendum or 2/3 majority, needed to amend it, while so-called “ordinary laws” are the statutes enacted or abolished by the simple majority of legislative body. Constitutional amendment thus demands maximum possible national consensus and open public debates outside the legislature.
The word Socialism was not omitted altogether from the Constitution by the subsequent amendments but redefined by saying that it meant economic and social justice. This assured the West and pro-capitalist elements that Bangladeshi Socialism is not socialism in the real sense; it was not the socialism as it was then practiced in China or Soviet Russia, and that there is no reason to be panicked. In the light of the major changes in the world economic and power relations over the last decades debates on this revisionist socialism in the Constitution is rather muted. Some of our former Socialist revolutionary leaders are happily co-habiting with semi-feudal, pro-capitalist parties.
The debate on Nationalism Bangalee vs Bangladeshi seems to be driven by emotion. Citizens who are not Bangalee but of other ethnic and cultural roots and profess any of the non-Muslim faiths should feel quite comfortable if their nationality is Bangladeshi. I find no contradiction in this kind of arrangement. But it is wrong to define all the citizens of Bangladesh as Bangalee they would not feel comfortable with is this definition. Those who raise controversies and unnecessary debates on this issue are not helping Bangladesh to establish its distinct national identity.
Finally we need to have some conclusion for our amendment of the constitution so that it can have only the positive influences for our politics, people as well as for the government. For the better conclusion obviously we need to follow the right modification. Here I have used the term modification as to either build strong support in favor of the amendment so each and every citizen of the Bangladesh accept it or change the amendment in such a way so that people cannot complain against it.
But at the end of my analysis one thing is very much clear that, the 15th amendment of the constitution of Bangladesh was not perfect enough for the politics and the people of Bangladesh. At the same time though it seemed supportive for the current government but they also lose their popularity. And it might create failure in their ruling style. So the government surely needs to take necessary steps so that the general of the ordinary people cannot claim against them.
Lastly, we can say that though the amendment of the constitution took place by influencing the government, politics and the people of Bangladesh but in most of the situation it actually impacts negatively and has negative influence for our nations, so government might be claimed as the failure government in the long term as they did not take any necessary steps to solve this negative influence about the 15th amendment of the constitution of Bangladesh. For the betterment of the whole nation government should move on to solve the negative influence of the amendment of the constitution.
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