Parliament has passed the Redrawal of Constituencies Bill 2021, seeking to formulate an act to replace a military regime-era ordinance in line with a court judgment and empowering the Election Commission to formulate rules.
Lawmakers passed the bill by voice vote after Law Minister Anisul Huq piloted it in parliament on Saturday.
Anisul Huq said the proposed bill includes provisions relating to delimitation of the number of single territorial constituencies mentioned in Article 65 (2) of the Constitution, functioning of the Election Commission, and empowerment of the commission to make rules.
"When it turns into a law, it will be possible to carry out the demarcation work of each constituency of parliament," he added.
The proposed law, which is aimed at formulating an act to replace the existing Delimitation of Constituencies Ordinance 1976, will have nine sections instead of the eight sections in the existing ordinance.
The new section provides scope for the enactment of rules under the law.
In addition, under the new law, a sub-section has been added to Section Eight of the existing ordinance. It notes that if territorial boundaries cannot be demarcated due to natural disasters or any other reason, elections will be held under the existing boundaries.
Under the bill, for the purpose of elections to seats in parliament, the EC shall divide the country into as many single territorial constituencies as the number of members to be elected as per Section 65(2) of the Constitution.
Section 7 of the bill states that the validity of the delimitation of any constituency decided upon by the commission shall not be called into question in or before any court or any other authority of the country.
The constituencies shall be so delimited, having regard to administrative convenience, that each constituency is a compact area. In doing so, due regard shall be given to the distribution of population as per the latest census report.
Territorial constituencies shall be delimited afresh, upon the completion of each census, for the purpose of general elections to parliament to be held following such census, unless otherwise directed by the commission for reasons to be recorded in writing, before each general election to parliament.
Two more bills passed
The Bangladesh Legal Practitioners and Bar Council (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed in Parliament on Saturday, allowing the government to form an ad-hoc committee for a maximum one-year tenure to arrange Bar Council elections if regular elections cannot be arranged in time due to any natural disaster or something else, such as 'acts of God'.
The Gandhi Ashram (Board of Trustees) Bill, 2021 was also passed in Parliament to replace the related Ordinance promulgated during the military regime and declared illegal by the judiciary.
Two bills placed in parliament
The Highways Bill 2021 was placed in parliament on Saturday, aiming to have a full-fledged law replacing the Highways Act 1925.
Besides, the Development Board Laws (Repeal) Ordinance, 1986 (Repeal) Bill 2021 was placed before the house by Law Minister Anisul Huq.
Demand for expunging Harunur Rashid's remarks
Ruling party whip of parliament Abu Sayeed Al Mahmood Swapon has asked that BNP lawmaker Md Harunur Rashid's remarks in parliament on Friday about the inspector general of police and the Boat Club be expunged. He made the demand while speaking on a point of order in parliament on Saturday.
The whip said the MP had made offensive remarks against many, starting with the police chief, quoting newspapers.
"Today, in this parliament, I urge that the statement made by Harunur Rashid yesterday be expunged," he added.
Speaking on a point of order on Friday, the BNP lawmaker said, "The club regularly hosts liquor parties and gambling. I have asked the home minister for a statement as to whether the IGP can legally be the president of such an entity."
BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid asked the home minister in parliament how Dhaka Boat Club Limited on the foreshore of the River Turag had been set up, and whether the inspector general of police (IGP) had taken permission from the authorities to lead the club.
The BNP lawmaker from Chapainawabganj 3 constituency said there had been no such record in the 50 years since Bangladesh achieved independence that a police chief had set up or led such a club.
Meanwhile, BNP lawmaker Rumeen Farhana has alleged that she was harassed while leaving the country.
"My misfortune is that every time I have tried to leave the country for the last seven to eight years, I was not allowed to go despite having my passport, visa and ticket," she said on a point of order.
"Although I got a chance once or twice, I was detained at the airport police station for two to two and a half hours. I was able to leave after two and a half to three hours if there was yet a flight time. Or else, I couldn't fly. For the last seven to eight years, I have undergone similar harassment on my return to Bangladesh, too."
She further said, "In response to my writ petition in 2017, the Supreme Court had given clear directives that I could not be barred in any way."
She also complained that the directive was not being followed.
On the independence of the judiciary, she said it is often impossible for citizens to survive if the judiciary could not function in a transparent and independent manner.