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Fundamental Rights

Fundamental Rights The fundamental rights of the people of Bangladesh have been enshrined in the constitution of the country. All past laws inconsistent with these rights are made void by the Constitution, and it enjoins upon the State not to make any law inconsistent with these rights. Certain rights may, however, remain suspended under the provisions of Articles 141(a), 141(b) and 141(c) during an emergency arising out of a threat to the country's security or economic life.

Fundamental rights give the citizens dignity of life in an atmosphere of freedom and justice beyond the man-made fetters that had constricted their physical and mental horizons. Modern judiciary is regarded as an excellent product of civilization to put the concept of justice to work in the midst of divergent forces with conflicting class or individual interests. Such conflicts make it difficult to bring about equilibrium in the society for a peaceful and orderly association of citizens for their common good. An independent judiciary and strong democratic institutions are the best guarantee against assaults on the rights of the citizens.

The fundamental rights of the people in Bangladesh are listed under Articles 27 to 44 of Part III, and the jurisdiction of the high court Division of the Supreme Court to enforce the rights is defined in Article 102 of Part Vl of the Constitution of 1972.

Articles 27 and 28 of the Constitution provide that all citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law, and the State shall not discriminate against any citizen on grounds only of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Articles 31 and 32 provide that to enjoy the protection of the law, and to be treated in accordance with law, is the inalienable right of every citizen, and no action detrimental to the life, personal liberty, body, reputation or property of any person shall be taken except in accordance with law. Article 29 provides that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in respect of employment or office in the service of the Republic irrespective of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making special provision in favour of any backward section of citizens for the purpose of securing their adequate representation in the service of the Republic.

Article 33 provides that no person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed of the grounds for such arrest, nor shall he be denied the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall be produced before the nearest magistrate within a period of twentyfour hours of such arrest, and no such person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period without the authority of a magistrate except in the case of any person who for the time being is an enemy alien, or who is arrested or detained under any law providing for preventive detention.

Article 34 guarantees that all forms of forced labour are prohibited, and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. Nothing in this article shall apply to compulsory labour by persons undergoing lawful punishment for a criminal offence, or required by any law for public purposes.

Article 35 provides that no person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law in force at the time of the commission of the act charged as an offence, nor be subjected to a penalty greater than, or different from, that which might have been inflicted under the law in force at the time of the commission of the offence. Every person accused of a criminal offence shall have the right to a speedy and public trial by an independent and impartial court or tribunal established by law. No person shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment.

Article 36 provides that subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the public interest, every citizen shall have the right to move freely throughout Bangladesh, to reside and settle in any place therein and to leave and re-enter Bangladesh.

As per Articles 37 and 38 every citizen shall have the right to form associations or unions, to assemble and to participate in public meetings and processions peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interests of morality, public order or public health. Freedom of thought and conscience is guaranteed in Article 39 of the Constitution. Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence, the right of every citizen to freedom of speech and expression, and freedom of the press are guaranteed.

Article 40 provides that subject to any restrictions imposed by law, every citizen shall have the right to enter upon any lawful profession or occupation, and to conduct any lawful trade or business. Article 41 provides that every citizen has the right to profess, practice or propagate any religion, and every religious community has the right to establish, maintain and manage its religious institutions. As per Article 42 of the Constitution every citizen shall have the right to acquire, hold, transfer or otherwise dispose of property, and no property shall be compulsorily acquired, nationalised or requisitioned save by authority of law.

According to Article 43 every citizen shall have the right to be secured in his home against entry, search and seizure, and to the privacy of his correspondence and other means of communication.

Article 44 guarantees the right of every citizen to move the High Court Division in accordance with clause (1) of Article 102 for the enforcement of any of the fundamental rights conferred by Part III of the Constitution. [Enamul Haq]