Monday, 11 April 2011

Constitution of ’72 restored: HC None should be forced to wear religious attire, observes court

Tuesday, 05 October 2010
In a significant development, the High Court yesterday observed that the original Constitution of 1972 was automatically restored following the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Fifth Amendment case.

After disposing of a suo moto rule issued by the High Court on August 22 this year regarding forcing women to wear religious attire like Burqa (veil) in educational institutions, a High Court bench comprising Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain yesterday said that no one within the borders of Bangladesh should be compelled to wear Burqa or other religious attires against her/his wish.

The High Court bench said that everybody in the republic should follow the original Constitution of 1972.
It also said that the four state principles—socialism, secularism, nationalism and democracy—had been automatically re-established after the apex court’s verdict on the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.
“After the Fifth Amendment judgement, our country is now a secular state,” the court said adding that “secularism is one of the best among the four basic principles of the country’s Constitution”.

As per the Constitution, everybody had religious independence, the court said, “Hence, nobody could be forced to wear religious attire like Burqa (veil) or Dhuti in educational institutions and work places across the country.”

No one could be prohibited from wearing some attire by the authorities concerned if he or she wished to wear such attire, the court added.
 “It was so much discrimination to compel girls to wear Burqa and not allow them to participate in sports,” the court said.

The court yesterday also directed the authorities to issue notices asking all educational institutions not to compel the student to wear religious attire.
The same bench of the High court on August 22 had issued the suo moto rule asking the government to explain why forcing girls to wear Burqa (veil) and keeping them out of sports and cultural activities in the educational institutions and work places should not be declared illegal.

In an interim order the same day, the High Court directed the government to ensure that no woman was forced to wear veil and barred from taking part in cultural activities like sports in the educational institutions.
The High Court came up with the order upon a public interest litigation (PIL) application filed by two Supreme Court lawyers—Barrister Mahbub Shafique and KM Hafizul Alam—drawing attention to a report published in a Bangla daily on August 22 under the headline “Rani Bhabani Mahila College, Natore - Burqa Na Porle Ashte Mana”.

The HC also directed principal of Rani Bhabani Mahila College Mozammel Haque to appear before it on October 4 to explain his position in the matter.

As per the High Court order, the principal yesterday appeared before the court and explained his position.
After disposing of the rule, the court directed the government to take departmental action against the principal after holding an inquiry into the allegations against him.

“The government may sack him, if necessary,” the court said.
However, Principal Mozzammel Haque told reporters that he would file an appeal in the Supreme Court against the High Court order.

Adv Mahbub Shafique told reporters yesterday that the verdict made it clear that an individual had the right to his clothes of his choice maintaining decency.

“Secularism is one of the four basic principles of the country's Constitution, which has also been reinstated in the Constitution following the apex court order on the Fifth Amendment,” he said.

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