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JS panel wary of criticism

Suggests changes to bills on 546 ordinances

A parliamentary body yesterday recommended inclusion of new provisions in the two bills seeking legitimacy and continuation of the operations of 546 ordinances promulgated during the past two martial law regimes.

It said it will not be considered as giving confirmation and ratification to any action done by the illegal and unconstitutional martial law regimes.

The recommendation apparently came to avert criticism for giving effectiveness to the ordinances.

Scrutinising the bills, which had been placed in parliament on Tuesday, the parliamentary standing committee on law ministry came up with the recommendation and gave consent to the government's unprecedented move.

"We strongly condemn the martial law regimes," Abdul Matin Khasru, a member of the parliamentary body, told The Daily Star.

Khasru, who had proposed the provision, said people might criticise legitimising of the ordinances. "Therefore, we unanimously recommended inclusion of the new provision in both the bills," he added.

Through the fifth and seventh amendments to the constitution, all actions of the martial law regimes by Gen Ziaur Rahman and HM Ershad were ratified and validated.

But the Supreme Court declared the amendments illegal and void. In June 2011, the House passed the 15th amendment and deleted the provisions incorporated in the constitution through the fifth and seventh amendments.

But the law ministry did not take any step in this regard in the last 19 months.

On January 21 this year, the president promulgated two ordinances to continue the operations of the 546 ordinances.

At yesterday's parliamentary body meeting, members raised question about the law ministry's silence over the period. "The law ministry could not give any satisfactory explanation," committee member Rahmat Ali told The Daily Star after the meeting.

Although the parliamentary body gave consent to the passage of the bills, it could not even check the names of the ordinances, let alone examine their contents, as the government was in a hurry to pass the bills by February 26 deadline, said a meeting source.

The effectiveness of the two ordinances promulgated recently to give 546 ordinances legitimacy and effectiveness will expire on February 26, as the two ordinances were placed in parliament on January 27.

The committee would place the scrutiny report with recommendation in parliament on Sunday and the two bills might be passed on Monday, said committee sources.

Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, Law Minister Shafique Ahmed and Matin Khasru however defended the passage of the two bills.

“We are making new laws,” the law minister claimed, “There is no contradiction with the article 93 (2) of the constitution.”

He said every ministry concerned will later bring separate bills in parliament for making new laws for the continuation of the activities initiated and done by the ordinances during the martial law regimes.

And interestingly, the parliament is set to pass the two bills next week without knowing the exact number and contents of the ordinances.

The bills placed in parliament on Tuesday came up with lists of 166 ordinances. But according to a report prepared by the law ministry, the two bills however sought to make the special provisions for continuation of as many as 546 ordinances.

The bills did not cite names of the remaining 380 ordinances which were also made during the two martial law regimes to amend the different laws then.

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