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HENB | Dhaka | March 28, 2016:: In a set piece move Bangladesh High Court on Monday rejected a petition by a Hindu advocate of Bangladesh in a very secular justification that challenges the constitutional provision recognising Islam as the state religion of the Muslim-majority nation.
The bench of Justice Naima Haider, Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque, and Justice Ashraful Kamal passed the order this afternoon.
The petition created a political tensions over the role of Islam in the Muslim-majority country. Today’s ruling came as the country’s largest Islamist party – Jamaat-e-Islami – called a nationwide strike to protest the legal move. Leaders of Hefazat-e-Islam, or the Committee to Protect Islam, celebrated the High Court ruling of Monday.
Bangladesh’s first constitution, framed after independence in 1971, adopted secularism as one of its main principles, along with socialism. A constitutional amendment in 1988 declared Islam the state religion.
In its order, the high court said the petitioners do not have the right to file the writ petition, as the report came in last. The shall Supreme Court for Bangladesh is comprising of the Appellate Division and the High Court Division.
After the passage of the Eighth Amendment Bill on June 7, 1988, 15 noted personalities had filed a public interest litigation challenging the state religion provision. Many of them are now dead.
The matter was absent from discussion tables until August 1 last year when a Hindu Supreme Court lawyer Samendra Nath Goswami filed another petition with the high court questioning how Islam could still be acknowledged as the state religion despite revival of “secularism” as the state policy under a 2011 amendment to the Constitution.
Goswami had himself moved the petition which the bench of Justice Mohammad Emdadul Haque and Justice Muhammad Khurshid Alam Sarkar rejected outright on September 7 after a brief hearing.
At latest, the three-member panel of judges said today in its ruling that the petitioners had “no locus standi,” a legal term that means the plaintiffs have no grounds for the complaint and haven’t shown that they have been harmed by the law they are seeking to challenge.
Politics in Bangladesh has long been split over the question of religion. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party, now in opposition, supported the provision of Islam as the official religion when it came to power in 1991, arguing that it was a status that reflected the heritage of the vast majority of the population.
The Awami League party, led by current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, brought in constitutional amendments in 2011 that restored secularism to the constitution but retained Islam as the state religion.
Islamist political parties had called for a general strike on Monday to protest the legal challenge, but withdrew the call after the High Court dismissed the petition following a brief hearing.
As a matter of fact the politics and judiciary in Bangladesh have been captured by the covert Islamist there and today’s HC judgement is a glaring example of that.
Hindu-Buddhist-Christian and other minorities in Bangladesh is living in a dying condition and the Hindu population in Bangladesh has been decreased from 23% (in 1971) to only 8% (in 2011) due to severe Islamic persecution there. The minorities in Bangladesh are passing their worst time under the communal politics in BD and the deadly threat perceptions from the Muslim activists in Awami League, BNP and Jammat in a very heinous way.
__Input from PTI and WSJ.