The nation needs enactment and enforcement of constitutional obligatory laws, including the one on formation of the Election Commission, to smoothly run the state affairs in the light of the country’s highest charter, experts said.Although 49 years have elapsed since the country’s independence, no government has taken initiative to fully implement the constitutional obligation.
The Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh was adopted on November 4, 1972 after the country’s independence on December16 in 1971.
The Constitution provides a framework for a parliamentary government, fundamental human rights and freedoms, an independent judiciary, democratic local government and national bureaucracy.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman gifted the nation a constitution only 11 months after the country’s independence.
Legal experts stressed the need for enactment and enforcement of some constitutionally obligatory laws as the country is going to observe Constitution Day today (November 4).
The Constitution made it obligatory for the government to enact a good many laws to smoothly run the state affairs and avoid any unwarranted political disputes.Constitutional obligatory laws need to be enacted for resolving major problems and addressing national issues, legal experts said while talking to the daily sun.
They said laws need to be enacted on the privileges of lawmakers, jurisdiction of parliamentary standing committees [especially in case of enforcing attendance of witnesses and interrogating them on oath and compelling the production of documents], qualifications of judges of
he Supreme Court and advisory jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and qualifications of the election commissioners.
Article 77 (1) of the Constitution provides “Parliament may, by law, provide for the office of Ombudsman. (2) The Ombudsman shall exercise such powers and perform such function as Parliament may, by law, determine, including the power to investigate any action taken by a Ministry, a public officer or a statutory public authority.(3)The Ombudsman shall prepare an annual report concerning the discharge of his function and such report shall be laid before Parliament.”
The Ombudsman Act, 1980, (Act XV of 1980) was passed by the then Parliament. But it never came into effect.
Article 118 (1) says: “There shall be an Election Commission for Bangladesh consisting of 1 [The Chief Election Commissioner and not more than four Election Commissioners] and appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners (if any) shall, subject to the provisions of any law made in that behalf, be made by the President.” The country is yet to see the law as mentioned by the Constitution. In 2010, the parliamentary standing committee on law, justice and parliamentary affairs ministry sent a list of 49 constitutional obligatory laws to the Law Commission, asking it to scrutinise those and submit a report. The standing committee sent a letter to the Law Commission again seeking its report.
Prior to the reprint of the Constitution in 2010 that included and excluded many provisions as per Supreme Court verdict, the parliamentary standing committee wanted to have constitutional obligatory laws to be examined.
Sources said the Law Commission was working on the issue. As the task was incomplete, the commission could not submit its report to the standing committee.
The parliamentary standing committee sent drafts of the constitutionally obligatory laws to the Law Commission for recommendations. Former Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque joined Law Commission as chairman on July 24, 2013. After his takeover, the standing committee again sent a letter, asking for the commission’s opinion.
When Prof Dr M Shah Alam was acting chairman of the Law Commission, The parliamentary standing committee sought commission’s opinion on constitutionally obligatory laws, sources said.
The standing committee sent several letters to the Law Commission, asking it to finish its task and send report.
Nearly 20-22 constitutional obligatory laws have already been enacted and now it is the task of the government to enact the remaining obligatory laws.
As per the decision taken by the legislative panel on law, justice and parliamentary affairs in May 2010, the government sent a list of constitutionally obligatory laws to the Law Commission for scrutiny.
The parliamentary body also asked the law ministry to take necessary measures to comply with the provisions of the Constitution to which a total of 17 amendments have been made so far.
In absence of a law on the appointment of election commissioners, the President has to face trouble for recasting the quasi-judicial election conducting body. Earlier, the Election Commission requested the government to enact a law. The EC had prepared a draft outlining the criteria for appointment of election commissioners.
Talking to the daily sun, Law Commission Chairman and former Chief Justice ABM Khairul Haque expressed ignorance of scrutiny of constitutional obligatory laws.
“We’ll try to highlight dreams of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who gifted a constitution within 11 months after independence. He was able to unite the nation through this constitution. We should renew pledge to go by it. No other countries, except Bangladesh could adopt a constitution so early,” he said.
As per Article 107 of the Constitution, the Supreme Court, however, has made rules to regulate practice and procedure of the High Court Division and the Appellate Division.
Senior lawyer of Supreme Court Shah Monjurul Hoque said, “We (lawyers) are demanding a law for specifying qualification of High Court judges. Chief Justice also sometimes speaks about the issue. The judges are being appointed based on some criteria. Going beyond it, rules should be made specifying detailed qualifications for becoming a judge.”
About the necessity of Ombudsman, he said any government department, including Anti-Corruption Commission, can be accountable to Ombudsman to ensure transparency of their functions and check any abuse of power.