Dhaka, Mar 28: A larger bench of the High Court (HC) on Monday rejected the petition that was filed in 1988 challenging the legality of Article 2A of the Constitution that declares Islam as the state religion.
A three-member bench led by Justice Nayma Haider passed the order after hearing the rule that was issued 28 years ago questioning the constitutional legality of State Religion.
Other members of the bench were—Justice Kazi Reza-ul Haque and Justice Ashraful Kamal.
The High Court has asked Swairachar O Sampradaiyikata Protirodh Committee to explain whether it had the right to challenge the legality of Article 2A of the Constitution that declares Islam as the state religion.
In 1988, the petition was jointly filed by former Chief Justice Kemal Uddin Hossain, academicians Khan Sarwar Murshid, Kabir Chowdhury, Mosharaf Hossain, Serajul Islam Chowdhury and Anisuzzaman, sector commander Chitta Ranjan Dutta, writer Borhan Uddin Khan Jahangir and journalist Faiz Ahmed, as the leaders of the committee.
Only three of the petitioners Serajul Islam Chowdhury and Anisuzzaman, and Borhan Uddin Khan Jahangir are now alive, lawyer AKM Zagrul Haider told the three-member larger bench of Justice Naima Haider, Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Haque and Justice Ashraful Kamal.
In a supplementary rule issued on December 1, 2011 by another bench asked the government to explain why the retention of Article 2A in the Constitution under the 15th amendment of July 3, 2011would not be declared unconstitutional and void.
The original rule issued on June 8, 2011 asked the government to explain why the inclusion of Article 2A in the Constitution by the eighth amendment in 1988 would not be declared unconstitutional and void.
On Monday, the larger bench declined to hear the original rule as the eight amendment was struck down as unconstitutional.
The bench also asked the petitioner’s lawyer Zagrul Haider to explain whether it could hear the issue of state religion since the Appellate Division settled it a verdict on the 15th amendment.
The court also revoked an order given on December 1,2011, appointing 14 senior lawyers as amicus curie to assist the court on the issue.
The court said it would take no legal opinion from the amicus curiae as it would delay the disposal.
Kamal Hossain and 13 other senior lawyers were present at the hearing.
The court deferred the hearing until March 27 as Zagrul Haider prayed for time saying his senior Subrata Chowdhury was out of the country and that he was expected to return home on March 3.
The petitioners called for scrapping Article 2A saying it contradicts the basic structure and essential feature of the constitution embodied in the its preamble, by making a particular religion –the state religion.
They said that the impugned article clashes with the state principle of secularism and freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.
Article 2A was incorporated in the Constitution in gross violation of its basic spirit by the regime of deposed military despot HM Ershad through the eighth amendment on June 9, 1988, contends the petition.