Appraisal of constitutional proposals of Bangladesh Government

Appraisal of constitutional proposals of Bangladesh Government

What follows is my appraisal of broad ranging constitutional proposals submitted before the Parliament by Law Minister Shafik Ahmad. Bangladesh  Cabinet approved  it a few days back.. First of all I submit that the present government has no mandate for amending any part of the constitution. They did not mention any proposal for constitutional amendment in their election manifesto. The last few elections also show that their public support for the main government party  has gone down to about  forty percent.  As such they do not have the majority to pass any constitutional amendment alone without the consent of the people or without a referendum on each issue. I mention below some important proposals and my comments thereon.


(1)In the proposal number 3  , the government want to add a paragraph stating that socialism, secularism , nationalism and democracracy were the principles for which liberation struggle was made. This is just not true or agreed  among the political forces that  people fought for secularism or 1971. Socialism and secularism were not mentioned in any liberation time document including Mujibnagar declaration.


(2)In proposal number 8 the government  want  for ever want to stop any amendment in some parts of the constitution (such  as placing pictures of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in all offices and institutions, principles of secularism, socialism etc mentioned in Preamble and  First and second chapter )  .These can never be changed.


This means that present government has right to change everything and then there will be a full stop. No party in future can change these things This is highly undemocratic and it would take away the sovereign right of future generation.


(3)in proposal number 9, they want to replace faith in Almighty Allah by secularism and re-introduction of socialism. Socialism is almost dead , to bring it back means destroying our growing economy. Secularism is against the spirit of faith of all religions. This is against the wishes of the people. Deletion of faith in Almighty Allah as a state principle will bring conflict anew.



(4)in proposal 10  , it is proposed to change Bangladeshi nationalism to Bangali nationalism .This will be a wrong action .Historically no great figuire of bengal fought for only  Bbegali  speaking state. Rabindranath Thakur , Subhaschandra Bose were for Indian state on the basis Indian nationalism. AK Fazlul Haque, Shahid Suhrawardy, Abul  Mmansur Ahmad fought for Muslim state or states on the basis of Muslim nationalism  ( in Muslim Majority areas. ) Nobody including Sheikh  Mujibur Eahman  sahib called for an independent state of Bengal including  Assamese Bangalees, East  Bbengal  Bangalees and  West  Bengal  Bangalees. Sheilh sahib used to call rights of bengalees meaning only East Bengal or the then East Pakistan bengalees. Any nationalism which excludes west Bengal and Assamese B aengalees can not be Bangali nationalism  in proper sense. .

As such Bangali nationalism is wrong by definition, it has to be Bangladeshi nationalism which will help all  Bangladeshis including Chakmas and remaining Bihari  ( Indian immigrant s)  population  to unite as Bangladeshis. 


(5) In proposal 12,   it has been said that  communalism   will be abolished in all forms including wrong use of religion for political purpose.


This proposal is clearly directed against Islam in particular. Society and community are positive terms of Sociology. Community represents a group of common interest.Muslims are a society according to great sociologist Dr Ismail Raji Al Faruqi (as it represents an ideological affinity).However there is no harm in using community for Muslims or other religious groups..

In this proposal  community has  has been made a derogatory term and it is proposed to be deleted just for political purpose. It mentions abuse of religion only to make it difficult to perform their work. It will give opportunity to file case against religious parties .It will be a big harassment tool. On the other hand there is no mention of abuse of democracy or secularism or nationalism any where in the proposals.


(6)In proposal 17, extra conditions have been imposed in the formation and  operation of Islamic parties ..The proposal says that parties and organizations can be made subject to law and morality and then conditions have been given  that parties can not be made for disturbing communal harmony, no discrimination can be made on the basis of religion, gender etc.

This is clearly directed against Islamic parties. No where it has been said that class harmony can not be disturbed (we all know that communist and leftist politics is based on class difference).

Such conditions are not there in Indian or US constitution.


(7)     In proposal no 22, It  has been  proposed to delete  Caretaker government  altogather. The Care taker system was introduced after relentless movement of Awami League.They should not delete it when they are ruling.They may propose its abolition when they are in opposition.The Supreme Court’s 4-3 judjment has been resented by most quarters .Insted of becoming a panecia it has become biggest source of conflict.In any case it could be kept for next two terms as said by the Supreme Court.The Supreme court has no power to ablish a part of the constitution which has been passed by Parliament by a hundred percent agreement.In any case Parliament can restore it under article 142.The care taker government is a creation of People’s Parliament, it is not undemocratic only because they are not elected.In India when Central government dismisses a provincial government , the province is run by un elected is not termed un-democratic.


(8)   In proposal no 51 it is proposed to include the speech of Sheikh sahib on 7th March 1971.This is not appropriate, such speeches of George Washington, Jefferson, Gandhi, Khomeni,Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mandela have not been included in the constitution of their countries.


(9)   It also proposes to include the declaration of independence by Sheikh sahib on 26th.There is no credible evidence that Sheikh sahib made any such declaration on that day at that time. This also does not corroborate with his action to allow himself to be arrested by Pakistan army.The only declaration people know is that of Ziaur Rahman.The inclusion of Sheikh sahib’s declaration will create dissention.


(10) I am not commenting on other proposals


Shah Abdul Hannan


Former secretary government of Bangladesh