Amendments to the Constitutions of Bangladesh by Dr.Gazi Sirazul Islam

Third Amendment Act: The Constitution (Third Amendment) Act 1974 was enacted on 28 November 1974 by bringing in 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. This Act (i) 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; (ii) substituted Articles 44, 70, 102, 115 and 124 of the constitution; (iii) amended part III of the constitution out of existence; (iv) altered the Third and Fourth Schedule; (v) extended the term of the first JatiyaSangsad; (vi) made special provisions relating to the office of the president and its incumbent; (vii) inserted a new part, ie part VIA in the constitution and (viii) inserted articles 73A and 116A in the constitution.

This Act amended The Fourth Schedule to the constitution by adding a new paragraph 18 thereto, 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.
Sixth Amendment Act:  The Sixth Amendment Act was enacted by the JatiyaSangsad with a view to amending Articles 51 and 66 of the 1981 constitution. It amended Article 96 of the constitution; it also amended the Fourth Schedule to the constitution by inserting a new paragraph 19 thereto, 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.

This Amendment Act (i) declared Islam as the state religion; (ii) decentralised the judiciary by setting up six permanent benches of the High Court Division outside Dhaka; (iii) amended the word ‘Bengali’ into ‘Bangla’ and ‘Dacca’ into ‘Dhaka’ in Article 5 of the constitution; (iv) amended Article 30 of the constitution by prohibiting acceptance of any title, honours, award or decoration from any foreign state by any citizen of Bangladesh without the prior approval of the President. This Act ratified, confirmed and validated all powers exercised, all laws and ordinances promulgated, 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.

Fourteenth Amendment Act: The Constitution (Fourteenth Amendment) Act 2004 was passed on 16 May 2004 providing, among others, the following provisions : Increase in the number of reservation of seats for women in the JatiyaSangsad from 30 to 45 on a provisional representation basis for the following ten years; increase in the retirement age of Supreme Court judges from 65 to 67 years; and displaying of 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 all government, semi-government and autonomous offices and diplomatic missions abroad were made mandatory.

Fifteenth Amendment Act: The Constitution (Fifteenth Amendment) Act 2011 was passed on 25 June 2011 having amendment to the Constitution restoring secularism and freedom of religion, incorporating nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism as the fundamental principles of the state policy. It is beyond the scope of this article to analyse every amendment of the Bangladeshi constitutions, however, by analysing the various constitutional amendments that have taken place up to this point, we can conclude that every new government, upon taking office, immediately sets about making numerous constitutional amendments in order to either demonstrate their political nuisance or to risk their political dogma by using the document as a legal weapon.

Modern constitutions generally fail to specially entrench amendment rules which is not generally expected either but there should be some kind of mechanism for the amendments of the constitution to prevent the government from amending the documents repeatedly for its own gain.
The writer is an advocate

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