The vast majority of present-day constitutions portray the basic principles of the states, the composition and processes of governments and the fundamental rights of citizens in a higher law that cannot be unilaterally changed or amended by an ordinary legislative act. This advanced law is usually referred to as a Constitution.
Paradoxically and essentially every country claims to have a Constitution, but not every government conducts itself in a consistently Constitutional manner. Russian-American writer and philosopher Ayn Rand once said that the government was set to protect man from criminals, and the Constitution was written to protect man from the government. And we have a Constitution too. Fifty long years with the same Constitution is certainly appreciable.
The People’s Republic of Bangladesh endured a hard-fought birth. Its citizens struggled to free themselves from Pakistani domination and that victory came at great cost. The architect of Bangladesh’s independence, the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman duly realized the challenges ahead.
His first task was to earn diplomatic recognition of the Western countries, by using his political experiencing. Mujib chose to send clear messages to the global community that Bangladesh had stepped into a democratic era.
Sensing the necessity, Bangabandhu promulgated the “Provisional Constitution of Bangladesh Order of 1972” right after his home-coming on January 10, 1972. The order affirmed that those elected in the national and provincial parliament held in December 1970 and January 1971 would be deemed as members of the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh. The Constitution Drafting Committee took 72 days to draft the Constitution – in much shorter a period than the neighbouring countries. To Bangabandhu, Constitution was the directions for the future generations. For him, the Constitution of Bangladesh was written by the blood of the martyrs.
On November 4, 1972 the constitution was approved by 404 members of the Bangladesh Constituent Assembly. It came into force on December 16 of the same year. This completed the country’s transition into becoming a sovereign republic. It is the fundamental instrument of the government and to commemorate the adoption of the Constitution of Bangladesh, we are of the view that it is high time to look back and review what is done and what is undone.
India celebrates Constitution Day annually on 26 November. The day is also known as National Law Day. The day commemorates the adoption of the Constitution in India. India has lately started to observe the Constitution Day, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 19 November, 2015, notified the pronouncement of the Government of India to celebrate 26 November as 'Constitution Day'. Try not to be in awe why we don't have any day regarding Constitution. Being an independent nation, we should have such a day.
As Bangladesh is at the verge of golden jubilee of its constitution, a retrospection of the journey of the Constitution suggests an upward trajectory in terms of various Constitutional attainments and debates. As a free nation, Bangladesh experienced a political roller coaster ride for a period after 1975, but it is fortunate enough that there was no break in constitutional permanence as the Constitution was never abrogated. And it is thought to be the inherent power of the Constitution.
As a matter of fact, our Constitution is not just a legal manuscript of do's and dont's but truly it is an instrument that ensures the freedom of all sections of the society and provides every citizen with the right of equality without discriminating on the basis of caste, sex, region, sect or language and ensures that the nation remains on the path of growth and prosperity. On the contrary it is true that most of the people fall well short of even basic knowledge of this Constitution. That’s probably one of the reasons for peoples’ lack of engagement with Constitution. We do not have a day dedicated for the Constitution. We need one.
The writer is an Advocate and
practices at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
Email: [email protected]