I had posted a link to a Daily Star article on the verdict of August 2005 that considered the 5th amendment to the constitution of Bangladesh illegal. No one seemed to be interested in it. However, since I am personally very very interested to see this through, I am drawing people’s attention to it once again.
Here I am placing all the 13 amendments that has been introduced in our country since its birth. I don’t want to follow each and every single amendment and see its pros and cons – rather, I would like to consider on a few that has direct relevance to secularism.
• 1st amendment: (1973) allowed the prosecution of war crime/criminals
• 2nd amendment: (1973) Special Powers act; in the interest of the ruling party at the expense of proper protection to the people
• 3rd amendment: Boundary lines between India and Bangladesh
• 4th amendment: (1975) Presidential form of government introduced; BAKSAL one party system (it wasn’t until 1991 that a multi-party system was reinstated)
• 5th amendment: (1979) Change in the preamble deleted secularism and replaced it with “absolute trust in the all-mighty”; deleted proviso of Article 38 un-banned the activities of communal political parties geared toward using religion to gain political grounds; legalized all that the martial law regimes did in between 1975-79;
• 6th amendment: (1981)
• 7th amendment: (1986) Added on to the 5th and legalized yet another martial law regime and its acts
• 8th amendment: (1988) Made Islam the state religion; decentralized administration
• 9th amendment: President’s tenure 2 consecutive terms
• 10th amendment: (1990) 30 seats reserved for women in the parliament
• 11th amendment: (1991) Regarding legalizing Shahabuddin’s tenure and acts of Ershad
• 12th amendment: (1991) Parliamentary form reintroduced
• 13th amendment: (1996) Caretaker government
With the 2nd people’s rights were being curtailed… which only returned in 1991 with the 12th
With the 4th, democracy took a leave and an oppressive form of presidential form of the government was introduced through the BAKSAL one-party system.
With the 5th, secularism was slaughtered and communal elements started to pave their way into the constitution. Secularism was deleted and absolute trust in almighty was inserted. “Bismillah” was added on to the preamble.
In line with the 5th, 7th further established the unlawful activities of the martial law regimes, which always seemed to favor the communal elements.
With the 8th, which took place during another martial law regime, made Islam the state religion and sealed the constitutional argument over secularism completely.
With the SC verdict of August 2005, 5th amendment to the constitution has been declared null and void. Now – what does that mean? Logically, this should mean – that secularism is reinstated as one of the four guiding principles of the constrition, Bismillah is removed from the pramble, and all acts of all the successive martial law regimes be re-declared as illegal.
However, it seems, all of the above will transpire into the constitution, except the idea of dropping “Bismillah” from the preamble. In fact, this was stated within the August 2005 SC verdict, that though the 5th amendment is being declared illegal, the provision of having “Bismillah” in the preamble should remain.
Though I see what a political government would want to do this, with Islamists and other like minded groups having an undeniable impact and strong lobby within the government – I don’t see what the legal and logical justification behind such a decision might be.
To me, “Mismillah” goes against the grain of the secular philosophy that scrapping the 5th and hopefully the 8th implies. If we are going to establish secularism, then we should really practice it and that practice should begin with a seal of approval from the constitution of the country.