Saturday, 18 June 2011

Hearing on 8th amendment begins; amicus curiae for settlement of state religion issue in Parliament

The hearing on a writ petition challenging the validity of the insertion of Islam as state religion by 8th amendment of the Constitution began with deliberations by the amici curiae (friends of the court) in the High Court on Thursday (June 16).

All the three amici curiae expressed the identical view that the issue be left for the parliament as it enjoys the sovereign authority to amend the Constitution.

Since the parliament, now in session, is considering the proposed amendment placed by the special committee on constitution amendment in the light of the recent Supreme Court judgments, it would not be prudent for the court to continue hearing on the rule, they told the court.

Admitting the submissions by the three amici curiae - Dr M Zahir, Yusuf Hossain Humayun and Abdul Matin Khasru - an HC division bench headed by Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury adjourned the hearing to July 14. The impugned article 2A, inserted in the Constitution in 1988, says: The state religion of the Republic is Islam, but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in the Republic.

Earlier, during the hearing, Dr M Zahir submitted that a state cannot have a religion and termed secularism as temporal. Yusuf Hossain Humayun submitted that the insertion of Islam as state religion by the 8th amendment was intentional as there was no such ground reality in the country.

On June 8, the High Court issued rule asking the government to explain why the insertion of Islam as state religion by the 8th amendment of the Constitution should not be declared to have been made without lawful authority.

The bench came up with the orders in response to a supplementary petition for reviving a latent Public Interest Litigation (PIL) writ petition filed by some distinguished citizens that remained pending for long 23 years.-UNB, DhakaNew nation

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