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Bangladesh: Special Parliamentary Committee on Constitution Formed to Review All Past Amendments

(Aug. 13, 2010) A special committee of the Parliament of Bangladesh has been formed to examine past amendments to the Constitution of Bangladesh.

The Constitution of Bangladesh has been amended 14 times since it was first adopted on November 4, 1972. Many of these amendments altered the fundamental nature of the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment, passed in 1979, ratified all actions of preceding military rulers. In August 2005, the High Court declared the Fifth Amendment illegal, and on February 2, 2010, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the High Court verdict. An amended text of the Supreme Court verdict was recently released. (Hossain v. Bangladesh Italian MarbleWorks, Ltd., No. 1044/09, (July 27, 2010), Supreme Court of Bangladesh website, http://www.s
; see also Shameema Rahman, Bangladesh: Supreme Court Rules Constitutional Amendment Allowing Religion-Based Parties Illegal, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (Mar. 9, 2010), //

In response to the Supreme Court ruling, the current government has moved to amend the Constitution. The Prime Minister brought a motion for the formation of a special committee to review the past constitutional amendments. The 15-member body will produce a report for the Parliament proposing necessary amendments to the current Constitution. The committee is empowered to seek the opinions of constitutional experts and to invite them to its meetings. According to the Prime Minister, amending the Constitution is “necessary for upholding democracy and for blocking the way for usurpation of state power through imposition of martial laws in future.” (Shakhawat Liton & Rashidul Hasan, Constitution Amendment, 15-Member JS Body Formed Without BNP, THE DAILY STAR (July 22, 2010), http://www.t

A question arose during its formation regarding whether the special committee would include members of the opposition parties. While the rules of procedure of the Parliament do not allow formation of an “All-Party Parliamentary Committee,” the Constitution does allow formation of special committees that include members of opposition parties. The Prime Minister has agreed to reconstitute the committee to include one member of the opposition. However, the opposition has demanded equal representation on the committee of the ruling and the opposition parties. (A.N.M. Nurul Haque, Taking Opposition on Board, THE DAILY STAR (Aug. 1, 2010),