For over a decade, the illegal and illegitimate Awami League government, against the will of the people, has introduced numerous ill-motivated modifications to the fundamental framework of the constitution, driven by a malevolent desire to retain control over the state. A ‘Constitutional Reforms Commission’ will be established to meticulously review, repeal and amend all contentious and undemocratic amendments and changes to the constitution. The restoration of democratic rights to the people will be pursued by reinstating the provision for a ‘referendum’ in the constitution.
An Outline of the Structural Reforms for the State
(Prepared for the Aim of Democratic Reforms of the Constitution, State System, and Economic Emancipation)
The sovereignty of the nation that the citizens of Bangladesh founded with the goal of democracy, equality, human dignity, and social justice, after a hard-fought war for independence, is no longer within their control. The present authoritarian regime has completely dismantled the framework of the Bangladeshi state. The nation must be restored and reconstructed. With the intention of reinstating the governance of the country to its citizens, a ‘Public Welfare National Consensus Government’ will be instituted, involving all political parties in the ongoing popular, mass movement. This will occur subsequent to the successful victory of a free, fair, credible and participatory national election.
The ‘National Consensus Government’ will undertake the following transformative reform measures.
An inclusive and harmonious ‘Rainbow Nation’ as opposed to the spirit of ongoing vengeance of the regime shall be established, based on Bangladeshi nationalism, achieved by weaving together a tapestry of diverse perspectives and approaches. To attain this objective, the establishment of a fresh and progressive ‘Social Contract’ is imperative, fostered through ongoing dialogues, the sharing of viewpoints, and mutual comprehension. In this pursuit, the formation of a ‘National Reconciliation Commission’ shall be formed.
To reinstate democracy, safeguard the right to vote, and provide a lasting, constitutional, and institutional framework to the democratic process, and thereby ensure people’s mandate to choose their own leaders and form the government, a ‘Poll-time Non-Partisan Caretaker Government System’ will be implemented.
A proper equilibrium shall be established in the executive authority of both the Prime Minister of the government and the Cabinet of Ministers. The powers, responsibilities, and obligations of the Executive, the Judiciary, and the Legislature will be recalibrated with the objective of creating a system of Checks and Balances in the exercise of state power.
No one shall serve as the Prime Minister for more than two consecutive terms.
In addition to existing legislative system, an ‘Upper House of the Legislature’ will be established comprising of eminent citizens, educationists, professionals, political scientists, sociologists and persons with administrative experience to run the state with expertise.
The issue of amendment of Article 70 of the constitution will be considered, subject to examination, in order to ensure scope to the Members of the Parliament to express independent opinion in the Parliament, except in case of no-confidence motion, Finance Bill, Constitution Amendment Bill and issues involving national security.
The existing 'Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners' Appointment Act-2022' will undergo amendments to establish a fresh and capable Election Commission, composed of independent, proficient, unbiased, agreeable, and resolute individuals, as per the input from political parties and distinguished figures. The practice of voting across all centers will be ensured through paper ballots rather than EVMs. Revisions will be made to the RPO, the Delimitation Order, and the law governing the registration of political parties. The utilization of party symbols in local government elections will be annulled.
All constitutional, statutory, and public institutions will be restructured through essential legal reforms, aiming to reinstate transparency, accountability, and credibility that transcend narrow political divisions. The appointment to pivotal positions within these institutions will be subjected to review by a Parliamentary Committee through a formal hearing process.
The effective independence of the judiciary will be safeguarded in accordance with the provisions of the Bangladesh Constitution and the rulings of the Masdar Hossain Case. A ‘Judicial Commission’ will be established to revamp the existing judicial system. Supervision and discipline over subordinate courts will rest with the Supreme Court. An independent secretariat for the judiciary will be set up to operate under the auspices of the Supreme Court. The former ‘Supreme Judicial Council,’ enshrined in the constitution, will be reinstated to address matters such as the impeachment of Supreme Court Judges. For this purpose, essential amendments to the constitution will be undertaken. The selection of judges in the higher judiciary will be strictly based on their level of expertise, wisdom, integrity, devotion to the nation, reputation, and discernment, transcending partisan or political considerations. To appoint judges to the Supreme Court, a legislation specifying distinct qualifications and criteria will be enacted in accordance with Article 95(2)(c) of the Constitution.
An ‘Administrative Reforms Commission’ comprising of qualified and experienced persons shall be set up to reform and reconstitute the ‘administration’ with the objective of building up a service-oriented public and police administration imbued with patriotism. Merit, integrity, creativity, competence, experience and training will be the sole yardstick for appointment, transfer and promotion in civil and military administration.
A ‘Media Commission’ will be set up comprising former Supreme Court Judge, media professionals and learned, experienced and acceptable media personalities for ensuring complete freedom of mass media and comprehensive reforms in the media sector. Environment for honest and independent journalism will be restored. For this purpose, requisite amendment shall be brought in ICT Act- 2006 and Anti-terrorism Act-2009 and all black-laws usurping fundamental human rights including Special Power Act-1974 and Digital Security Act- 2018 shall be repealed. Trial of all cases of murder and torture of the journalists including sensational Sagar-Runi murder case will be ensured.
There will be no compromise on corruption. A white paper will be published investigating money laundering and corruption that took place over the last one decade and a half, and persons identified as responsible shall be brought to book. Adequate administrative and legal measures will be taken to bring back home the money laundered outside the country. Transparency and accountability shall be ensured in the Anti-Corruption Commission through systematic reforms, in addition to reforming the Anti-Corruption Commission and Anti-Corruption law. ‘Ombudsman’ will be put in place as provided under the constitution.
Rule of law will be established at all levels. Human values and human dignity shall be restored. The heinous culture of enforced disappearances, murder, extrajudicial killings and inhuman physical and mental torture will come to an end. Human rights will be implemented as provided under ‘Universal Human Rights Charter’. Appointment to the Human Rights Commission shall be made based on strict and specific criteria. Trial of all the persons directly or indirectly responsible for all extrajudicial killings, indiscriminate killings in the name of crossfire, enforced disappearances, murder, abduction, rape, inhuman physical torture and all cruel and inhuman crimes committed over more than a decade, shall be ensured.
An ‘Economic Reforms Commission’ will be formed comprising renowned economists, researchers, experienced bankers, corporate leaders and people with administrative experience to ensure economic justice. Disparity between the poor and the rich will be eliminated through equitable distribution of the benefits of growth to implement equity, human dignity and social justice, the main tenets of our war of liberation.
The Constitution Reforms Commission, the Administrative Reforms Commission, the Judicial Commission, the Media Commission, and the Economic Reforms Commission will submit their respective reports within a definite timeframe so that relevant recommendations could be fast implemented.
Every individual will enjoy full right to exercise respective religious activities based on the fundamental principle of “Religion belongs to respective individual; state belongs to all.” Social, political, cultural, economic, religious and civil rights as well as security of life, property and dignity of the people including ethnic minority in the hills and plains irrespective of political affiliations, race, colour, caste and creed, as provided under the constitution, shall be ensured. Action will be taken against those responsible for damage to homesteads, business houses and places of worship of the religious and ethnic minorities and forcible occupation of their properties.
Fair wages of the working class will be ensured in keeping with inflation. Child- labor shall be stopped, and an appropriate environment and arrangement for exposition of their lives shall be ensured. A safe work environment and the right to democratic trade union shall be ensured. An initiative shall be taken to restart all closed industries including jute mills, textiles, and sugar mills. Arrangement shall be made for ensuring safety of life, dignity and work security of the expatriate workforce and hassle-free treatment at the airport including delivery of service in all sectors and expatriate voting-rights. Special programs will be implemented for equitable growth and eradication of disparity in the disadvantaged regions like tea gardens, slums, sands, haors and coastal belts.
All black laws including the Indemnity Act in the power, energy and mineral sectors will be repealed. The endless corruption currently being pursued in purchase of electricity from the anti-people quick rental power stations shall be stopped in order to prevent hemorrhaging in the national economy. Adequate steps will be taken for renewable and mixed energy-based power generation. Appropriate measures shall be taken for exploration and tapping of the neglected gas and mineral resources to cut import dependency. For expansion of industrial sector investment friendly policies shall be taken to attract domestic and international investment. Expatriate Bangladeshis shall be encouraged to invest, giving incentives and other opportunities. Planned and well-coordinated industrial infrastructure shall be developed country wide.
In terms of foreign relations, national interest, national sovereignty and national security shall be given topmost priority in all respects. Bilateral and multi-lateral problems shall be resolved on the basis of equity, justice, acknowledgement of international norms, rules and regulations. No terrorist activity shall be tolerated on the soil of Bangladesh. Stern measures shall be taken against terrorism, extremism and militancy. The use of terrorism as political tool to suppress the dissents and opposition political parties by misusing the anti-terrorist law will be stopped. This will facilitate identify the real terrorists and ensure punishment under the process of law.
To protect the sovereignty of the country, the Defense Forces will be well organized in a time-befitting manner imbibed with the spirit of patriotism. Defense forces will be kept above all controversies with its distinct dignity intact.
In a bid to comprehensive decentralization of power, the local government institutions will be made more independent, strong and empowered. These institutions will be brought under strict accountability so that they can play an effective role in different development and service-oriented works including health and education. Independent local government will be ensured free from the interference of the local administration and any public representative whatsoever. Appointment of government administrator in any local government institution will be stopped, except for vacancy created due to death of the incumbent or by an order of the court. An elected local government representative shall not be suspended/dismissed/removed by executive order unless sentenced by the court.
Arrangement shall be taken to confer state recognition of the respective individual contribution made in the war of independence in 1971.A list of the martyrs of the liberation war will be prepared under state initiative on the basis of intensive survey and they will be accorded due state status and recognition. Welfare policy for the martyred freedom fighter families will be formulated and implemented on the basis of the list. An accurate list of the freedom fighters will be prepared after intensive verification.
Modern and time-befitting youth development policies will be formulated in keeping with the vision, thoughts and aspirations of the youth. Unemployed educated youth will be given ‘Unemployment Allowance’ till he/she gets employed, or for one year, whichever occurs earlier. Visible steps will be taken to achieve demographic dividends by enhancing the skill of the youth. Multiple pragmatic programs will be taken to deal with unemployment problem. Necessary investment shall be made to develop human resources with utmost importance on health, education and nutrition.Increase in age-limit for entry into the government service will be considered in keeping with the international standard.
With a view to ensure effective participation of women in the national building process, specific programs will be taken for women empowerment. Up-to-date development program shall be adopted and implemented for exposition of the standard of life of women and children. Women will be given preference, in principle, with regard to nomination for national parliament election. Initiative will be taken to increase women representation in the local government.
Need-based education at lower and mid-level and knowledge-based education at the tertiary-level will be given priority by removing current anarchy in the education sector. Special emphasis will be laid on research. Uniform standard of education and instruction in vernacular shall be given priority. Arrangement shall be made to hold regular election to students’ union in the education institutions to help build up future leadership. 5% of GDP shall be allocated in the national budget in the education sector to develop a capable, skilled and humane population. Allocation in public interest sectors like health and education shall be gradually increased in keeping with the country’s economic growth. All relevant sectors including education, technology and training shall be reorganized and reshuffled with a view to creating skilled human resources. Research and Development (R&D) shall be given top priority in education, industrial, scientific, technological and production sectors. Appropriate arrangements shall be made for the development of sports and exposition of national culture. Immoral sky culture and cultural aggression shall be prevented.
Considering health is wealth and based on the principle of ‘Health for all’ and ‘No death without medical treatment’, universal health coverage shall be introduced in line with ‘NHS’ in the United Kingdom. Health Card will be introduced for each and every citizen. 5% of GDP shall be allocated in the national budget in Health Sector. Social safety net for the disadvantaged ultra poor shall be further expanded till total alleviation of poverty.
Fair price of agricultural produce will be ensured. Government purchase-centre for agricultural products shall be set up at all the unions in phases. Crop insurance, livestock insurance, fisheries insurance and poultry insurance will be introduced by extending subsidy-support, if so required. Non-agricultural use of agricultural land will be discouraged. A strategic action plan for research and development in agriculture, fisheries and live-stock sector shall be chalked out on a priority basis and effective steps for its implementation. For this, incentives shall be provided to the export-oriented agro-processing industrial sector.
For overall development of communication network, a well-integrated multi- modal communication system shall be established by reforming the roads, rail and water ways throughout the country. Arrangement shall be taken for increasing regional and international trade and commerce through modernization, development and enhancement of skill of the country’s seaports and riverports.
To combat the hazards and loss due to climate change, sustainable and effective strategies shall be adopted. Institutional capacity to face natural disasters like floods, tidal bores, cyclone, and earthquake shall be enhanced by procuring latest modern equipment’s. Effective measures shall be taken to prevent pollution of the rivers and water reservoirs. Program for excavation and re-excavation of rivers and canals shall be implemented to prevent flood and drought. Arrangement shall be taken for prudent tapping, exploitation, preservation, and economic use of the sea resources (blue economy) on the basis of scientific survey.
Necessary steps will be taken to develop the information and communication (ICT) sector to the world-class level. Application of ICT in all sectors shall be given priority. Space Research and Atomic Energy Commission shall be enriched through enhancement of institutional capacity and practical facilities.
Planned housing and urbanization policies shall be taken and implemented through a national Masterplan, without wasting agricultural land in city and rural areas and through reduction of growing population pressure in the urban areas. Housing of all the poor people in the country will be ensured in stages.
This ‘Outline of the Structural Reforms of the State’ has been prepared, in line with the ‘19- Points’ of Late President Ziaur Rahman, BNP’s ‘Vision- 2030’ declared by ‘deshnetri’ Begum Khaleda Zia and in amended and extended form of the ‘27-Points’ program announced by desh-nayok Tarique Rahman.