Bangladesh High Court on Thursday declared illegal Jamaat-e-Islami’s registration as a political party with the Election Commission (EC), thus forbidding it from taking part in any national election.
The judgement came following a long legal battle over a writ petition — filed in 2009 by Bangladesh Tariqat Federation’s secretary-general Rezaul Haque Chandpuri and 24 others — challenging the legality of Jamaat’s registration .
The writ petition claimed that the listing of Jamaat as a political party was in violation of the Constitution and the Representation of People Order (RPO) Ordinance, 2008, conducted before 2009 parliamentary elections .
Two judges in the three-judge panel declared the registration illegal while the third member disagreed. Justice M. Moazzam Husain, who led the panel, announced the verdict without making an observation.
Petitioners’ lawyer Tania Amir told the court during her final submission that several provisions of Jamaat-e-Islami’s charter are contrary to Bangladesh’s Constitution and the RPO. She argued that Jamaat’s charter was also contrary to the Charter of Medina, which was signed and executed by Prophet Muhammad around 1,400 years ago and was inherently secular and democratic.
The petitioners also argued that the EC’s decision to register Jamaat as a political party was illegal and unconstitutional, as it is a communal political party and does not believe in Bangladesh’s independence and sovereignty. As per the Constitution, Bangladesh’s political parties cannot have an office abroad, but Jamaat was floated in India and has offices abroad. The petitioners further argued that Jamaat, in principle, does not recognise people as the source of all power and the undisputed power of the people’s representatives to make laws. They also claimed Jamaat a communal party which is not eligible to be registered as it discriminates on grounds of religion or gender.
Six Jamaat leaders, including the party’s founder Ghulam Azam, were recently convicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bangladesh’s Liberation War