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The incumbent governments in most parliamentary democracies conventionally perform in a caretaker capacity the routine functions of the government during the interim period between the conclusion of the term of a parliament and the election of a new one and ensure that such election is held in an impartial manner. In Bangladesh, the failure of successive political governments to conduct free and fair general elections impeded the institutionalization of the concept of democracy as envisaged by the Constitution of Bangladesh, 1972. This ultimately necessitated the enactment of the Constitution (Thirteenth Amendment) Act in 1996, which inserted provisions in the Constitution providing for the establishment of a Non-Party Care-Taker Government upon the dissolution of the Parliament--a concept peculiar to Bangladesh. This government was to be headed by the last retired Chief Justice of the nation and had the principle mandate of assisting the Election Commission to conduct the general election in a free, fair and impartial manner within 90 days of the dissolution of the Parliament. Consequently, the elections held under the supervision of neutral 'Care-Taker' Governments in 1996, 2001, and 2008 respectively were widely regarded as free and fair, thereby strengthening democracy in the nation. However, on the basis of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court's one-page long "short order" declaring the amendment unconstitutional, the government, led by the Awami League which held an overwhelming majority in Parliament on July 3, 2011, repealed the provisions for the Non-Party Caretaker Government. The objective of this paper is to demonstrate that the ruling party repealed the Non-Party Caretaker Government to perpetuate its grip on power as the repeal facilitated the holding of a virtually voter-less and one-sided election in January 2014. It will be further shown that the absence of any democratic accountability has, subsequently, facilitated the establishment of a tyrannical regime in Bangladesh. Accordingly, this Article puts forward a number of recommendations for ensuring the revival of participatory democracy and for preventing the nation from further sinking into the lap of tyranny.


Thomas More Law School

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Journal Article

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