Move to turn old ordns into laws

The government is working to convert the old ordinances into permanent laws. 

The Cabinet Division has been working on the issue for some months. 

Urmi Tamanna, Deputy Secretary of Cabinet Decisions Implementation Coordination Branch of the Cabinet Division told this correspondent, “Work is underway on the issue. I just got the responsibility to work on the issue and joined the office on Monday. I will be able to tell you the details in a couple of days. However, I hope that the necessary old ordinances will become laws in a few days after completing the necessary process.”

Kazi Nahid Rasul, a former deputy secretary of the Cabinet Division who has been made new deputy commissioner (DC) of Munshiganj, had looked after this matter. 

Talking to the Bangladesh Post on Tuesday, Kazi Nahid Rasul said that the Cabinet Division had taken initiative to convert the old ordinances, particularly the ordinances promulgated during the military regimes, into permanent laws. “The time was extended several times as the work was not progressing due to the Covid-19 situation. Hopefully, those who get the responsibility to work on the matter will be able to implement this work rapidly,” she said. 

It was known that a total of 59 military-regime ordinances, promulgated during the regimes of Ziaur Rahman and HM Ershad, remain in force till now. 

At least 172 ordinances were issued during the 1975 (August)-1978 and 1982-1986 (September) military regimes. Many of the old ordinances have already been replaced with permanent laws.

As per the Constitution, validity of any ordinance expires after a stipulated time as well as when Parliament sits in session. A total of ten Parliaments were formed after 1975, but the remaining ordinances could not be converted into Acts in the last 45 years.

Against this backdrop, the Cabinet Division had repeatedly given time to resolve the issue and asked the ministries concerned to take measures for enacting new laws to replace the necessary ordinances, that have not yet become laws. The ministries are not able to dispose of 59 different types of ordinances till now. The settlement deadline, set by the Cabinet, ended more than once.

 The Cabinet made its latest decision over the issue in February, 2021. A list of the ordinances was prepared by the Cabinet and sent to the ministries concerned informing them of the decision that these will be converted into laws or dropped by June next. Some instructions had also been given in this regard.  

 Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam had said that they gave the decision that the remaining martial law-time ordinances must be turned into laws by June.

 The High Court in 2013 asked for conversion of the unsettled ordinances into laws and that those not needed should be dropped. Earlier, the High Court in separate verdicts on the Fifth Amendment and the Seventh Amendment also declared that the proclamation, regulations, orders and all actions under the martial laws would remain illegal. The Appellate Division upheld the verdicts.

   The military-time government excessively used the ordinances. The present government intends to convert the temporary ordinances into permanent laws. 

The government had planned to convert a number of ordinances into permanent laws in the current budget session, but the session is brief due to the Covid-19 situation. However, some of the ordinances have already turned into new laws in line with the 2013 order of the High Court.

 After the government’s move, the ‘Bangladesh Madrasah Education Board Act, 2020’ was passed in Parliament on November 19 in 2020 to replace the ‘Madrasah Education Ordinance, 1978’, an ordinance issued by  Ziaur Rahman regime. 

The ‘Mongla Port Authority Bill, 2021’ was placed before Parliament on April 3 in 2021 to replace the ‘Chalna Port Authority Ordinance, 1976’, which was promulgated during the military regime. 

After the passage of the bill, the Mongla Port Authority will get a full law after 45 years of the ordinance as the Mongla Port has been running till now under the military law-time ordinance. Mongla, earlier known as Chalna, was renamed as Mongla in 1987, but the ordinance in the name of Chalna is still in force.