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Bangladesh: Interim President May Not Promulgate Ordinances Unrelated to Election

(July 2, 2008) The Bangladesh High Court has ruled that an ordinance promulgated by the President of the Interim Government that amended the law governing marriage and divorce registration exceeded his powers under the Constitution.

The Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Ordinance 2008, promulgated by the Interim Government in February, amended the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Act 1974. It empowered deputy commissioners to appoint and dismiss marriage registrars and issue relevant licenses. The validity of this ordinance was challenged by a number of marriage registrars.

The High Court ruled that the promulgation of such an ordinance is outside the purview of the President of the Interim Government. The Court observed that the Interim Caretaker Government's main duty is to hold elections. It held the Interim Government is permitted only to carry out only routine functions, and can only make policy decisions that are necessary for the discharge of such routine functions. Because the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Registration Ordinance of 2008 is unrelated to elections, it is unconstitutional and illegal, the High Court ruled. (HC Declares Ordinance Amending Muslim Marriage Act Illegal: Caretaker Govt. Can Do Only Routine Work, THE NEW NATION, July 14, 2008, available at http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/07/14/news0479.htm.)