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Bangladesh: Supreme Court Rules Constitutional Amendment Allowing Religion-Based Parties Illegal

(Mar. 9, 2010) The Supreme Court of Bangladesh has ruled that the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh, which legitimized the governments that were in power from the time of the August 15, 1975, coup through April 9, 1979, was illegal. The ruling, issued on February 2, 2010, was in response to two writ petitions that challenged an August 2005 High Court decision declaring the Fifth Amendment illegal.

The ruling will allow the government to ban religion-based political parties. A government spokesman said that in response to the ruling, religious parties will be banned, and the spirit of the 1972 Constitution, which was based on the four fundamental principles of nationalism, socialism, democracy, and secularism, will be restored. However, the language added by the Fifth Amendment to the preamble of the Constitution, “Bismillahir-ar-Rahman-ar Rahim” (“In the Name of God”), will remain. (Bangladesh SC Declares Illegal Amendment Allowing Religion in Politics, THE HINDU, Feb. 2, 2010, available at