Saturday, 18 June 2011

REPRINTED CONSTITUTION; HC to hear petition June 20

The High Court on June 14 fixed June 20 for hearing on the petition challenging several sections of the constitution, reprinted in line with the Fifth Amendment.

A bench of justices Farid Ahmed and Mohammad Shawkat Hossain fixed the date on Tuesday upon a prosecution plea.

Attorney general Mahbubey Alam sought time in the court on behalf of the state.

A Supreme Court lawyer Mohammad Abdul Halim on June 6 filed the petition. The court later fixed June 13 for hearing but could not hear the case that day due to hartal.

The petitioner urged the court to issue a rule on the government to explain why footnote-1 of the preamble, Article 38, its footnote-1, Article 99 and its footnote-3 of the reprinted constitution should not be declared illegal.

He also prayed for a stay over the effectiveness of the Articles in the reprinted constitution.

The law secretary and secretaries to justice, and legislative and drafting wings of the law ministry are to respond to the petition and supply main copies of the constitution, reprinted on Feb 10 this year.

The petitioner said, "Footnote-1 of the preamble states that the Supreme Court condoned Bismillah and that it has been upheld at the top of the preamble, which contradicts with the Supreme Court verdict."

"Bismillah was not condoned in the Fifth Amendment verdict," he added.

Barrister Halim also said retaining Bismillah and banning religion-based politics according to Article 38 were contrary to the main constitution.

"In line with Article 99 of the reprinted constitution, former Supreme Court judges can't be chief advisors or advisors to the caretaker governments."

But the SC did not say anything about this issue in its verdict on the Fifth Amendment, the petitioner added.

The HC had declared illegal Fifth Amendment to the constitution on Aug 29, 2005.

The Appellate Division, however, on Feb 2, 2010 maintained the HC verdict including some observations and the constitution was reprinted following the verdict on Feb 10, this year.

The government had to decide about the existing laws enacted during the martial law, informed the SC on May 11 upon an appeal by the government to withdraw some parts of the verdict on the Fifth Amendment by Appellate Division.

A 15-member special parliamentary committee was formed on July 21 last year to review the charter after the Fifth Amendment verdict by the Appellate Division.

The committee, after discussions with various parties, members of civil society and media representatives tabled the report along with the recommendations in parliament on June 8. 

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