Bangladesh SC bans religion in politics
DHAKA: Bangladesh’s Supreme Court has reinstated a ban on Islamic political parties in the latest blow to ‘religious hardliners’ in the impoverished South Asian country, a minister said on Thursday.
In a detailed, 184-page verdict released late on Wednesday, the Supreme Court scrapped the bulk of the 1979 fifth amendment, including provisions that had allowed religious political parties to flourish and legalised military rule.
“Secularism will again be the cornerstone of our constitution,” law minister Shafiq Ahmed told AFP on Thursday.
After independence, Bangladesh’s first constitution made secularism a key pillar. Following a 1975 coup, the army-led government amended the constitution’s guiding principle to “faith in Allah” in 1979.
Religious parties, which were banned in the original 1971 constitution but legalised by the 1979 amendments, are now banned again as the above provision has been thrown out, said Ahmed.
“Islamic parties cannot use religion in politics any more,” he said.
In 1988, a second military-led government made Islam the state religion in the Muslim-majority nation.
“But following the scrapping of the fifth amendment, these later amendments can now be challenged in court,” Ahmed said.
In the verdict, which was issued in January but became trapped in an appeals process until Wednesday, the Supreme Court also declared the 1975-1990 military rule illegal, and recommended punishing military dictators, Ahmed said.
“This means that, in theory, any Bangladeshi citizen could initiate a lawsuit against a former military dictator,” he said, adding that the repeal of the amendment would also limit the possibility of a future military coup.
“It is a landmark verdict,” Supreme Court lawyer Shahdeen Malik, who is also dean of law at the private BRAC university told AFP, adding that lawmakers would now have to clarify how the verdict would be applied by law.
Since the Awami League’s landslide election win over the Islamist-allied Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) in 2008, the government has cracked down on Islamic groups and parties.
Read more >> The News