Constitutional Amendments, Bangladesh

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CONSTITUTION

The fundamental law, written or unwritten, that establishes the character of a government by defining the basic principles to which a society must conform; by describing the organization of the government and regulation, distribution, and limitations on the functions of different government departments; and by prescribing the extent and manner of the exercise of its sovereign powers. A legislative charter by which a government or group derives its authority to act.

The concept of a constitution dates to the city-states of ancient Greece. The philosopher Aristotle described a constitution as creating the frame upon which the government and laws of a society are built:

A constitution may be defined as an organization of offices in a state, by which the method of their distribution is fixed, the sovereign authority is determined, and the nature of the end to be pursued by the association and all its members is prescribed. Laws, as distinct from the frame of the constitution, are the rules by which the magistrates should exercise their powers, and should watch and check transgressors.

In modern Europe, written constitutions came into greater use during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Constitutions such as that of the United States, created in 1787, were influenced by the ancient Greek models. During the twentieth century, an increasing number of countries around the world concluded that constitutions are a necessary part of democratic or republican government. Many thus adopted their own constitutions.

Constitutions, whether written or unwritten, typically function as an evolving body of legal custom and opinion. Their evolution generally involves changes in judicial interpretation or in themselves, the latter usually through a process called amendment. Amendment of a constitution is usually designed to be a difficult process in order to give the constitution greater stability. On the other hand, if a constitution is extremely difficult to amend, it might be too inflexible to survive over time. The Constitution of The People’s Republic Of Bangladesh is the supreme law of Bangladesh. It declares Bangladesh as a sovereign popular republic and lays down the framework defining fundamental political principles, establishing the structure, procedures, powers and duties, of the government and spells out the fundamental rights of citizens. Passed by the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh on the eighteenth day of Kartick 1379 B.S. corresponding to November 4, 1972, it came into effect from December 16, 1972, the day commemorated as victory day of Bangladesh. The constitution declares Bangladesh to be a unitary, independent and sovereign Republic, founded on a popular struggle for national liberation, which will be known as the People's Republic of Bangladesh. It pledges nationalism, secularity, democracy and socialism as the fundamental principles defining the Republic and declares the pursuit of a society that ensures the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedoms and the equality and justice to its citizens. It contains 153 articles, 1 preamble and 4 schedules; out of which the Second Schedule was omitted by the Constitution (Fourth Amendment) Act 1975.

In 1972, the 300 members elected to the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly in the 1970 elections, were made members of the Constituent Assembly of Bangladesh held its first session on April 10, 1972. An all-party committee (except Islamic fundamentalist parties) headed by Dr. Kamal Hossain, the Minister of Law in the new government, was tasked to draft the constitution of the new country. The constitution drafting committee consisted of members of all parties in the constituent assembly, including the Awami League, National Awami Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and the seven independent lawmakers and the leading Bengali intellectuals and nationalists Rehman Sobhan, Govinda Chandra Dev, Mohammad Shamsuzzoha and Tajuddin Ahmad.

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