Friday, August 27, 2010, Dhaka
The High Court on August 26th declared the 7th amendment to the Bangladesh Constitution void, illegal and made without lawful authority. This ruling deems unconstitutional the various decrees General Ershad passed through under martial law between March 1982 and November 1986.
The high court bench noted, “The proclamation of martial law its regulations, orders and all actions under this law shall remain illegal until Qayamat (the Judgment Day).Ershad had claimed that he had taken over the power for the nation’s need but the people had not given him the mandate, the court said, adding that Ershad had issued military law and martial law proclamations by suspending the constitution and the fundamental rights of people.
Earlier on the 3rd of November 1985 the military government of H.M.Ershad had acquired Ahsan Manzil and 5.6506 acres of surrounding area through martial law act 4 / 1985. All residents were asked to evacuate the premises within three weeks or face two years of imprisonment with penalty. Another amendment was passed on November 4th 1986 (act 10) to close any loopholes for possible future lawsuits arising from construction of municipal market on the acquired land.
A total taka 59,344,000 was paid as compensation for 5.6506 acres of acquired land of which 4.9620 acres were for museum & .6886 acres were for commercial market. Taka 25,288,000 were spent for artifacts purchases, display & construction of employee quarter.
25 years later constitution’s 7th amendment has been nullified by the court. This opens Pandora’s Box with a lot of unanswered questions. Were the compensation for land, building, artifacts and intangible property based on fair market value? Did compensation recipient list cover all genuine beneficiaries? Was solemnity of a landmark site compromised by a commercial market or the employee quarter? What was the size and scope of corruption on allocating municipal market’s shops to a few influential?
By Anas Khwaja