In a landmark verdict, the High Court of Bangladesh on Thursday declared illegal the Seventh Amendment to the Constitution that legalised the autocratic regime of General Hussein Muhammad Ershad.

The appellate division of the country's Supreme Court had in February declared illegal the Fifth Amendment, which legalised the regime of General Ziaur Rahman.

The ruling came in response to a petition filed by Siddique Ahmed, a resident of Chittagong who was convicted of murder during General Ershad's martial law tenure.

The court observed that General Ershad, who ruled Bangladesh for nearly nine years, had made the country's Constitution subordinate to the martial law, which is illegal and unconstitutional. It also observed the government would decide the fate of General Ershad, whose Jatiya Party is an ally of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's ruling grand alliance.

While the Fifth Amendment ratified all changes made to the Constitution and all government activities between August 15, 1975 and April 9, 1979, giving legitimacy to three regimes including that of General Ziaur Rahman, the Seventh Amendment ratified the proclamation of martial law and other orders by General Ershad between March 24, 1982, and November 10, 1986. General Ershad, the then Chief of Army Staff, declared himself the Chief Martial Law Administrator and imposed martial law on March 24, 1982 .

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