Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury yesterday declined to comment on the alleged violation of the constitution through the swearing-in of the newly elected lawmakers before the expiry of the ninth parliament.
A total of 284 members of parliament (MPs) elected in the January 5 parliamentary election took oath yesterday, ignoring the constitutional provision that imposes a bar on them to assume offices through taking oath until the ninth parliament expires on January 25.
After announcement of the oath taking ceremony on Wednesday, eminent jurists Barrister Rafique-Ul Huq and Shahdeen Malik told The Daily Star that it would be at variance with the constitution.
When her attention was drawn, the Speaker, who administered the oath, yesterday told reporters, "It's a matter of interpretation. I will not give any interpretation on the constitutional provision."
Attorney General Mahbubey Alam yesterday claimed that the newly-elected MPs were sworn in in accordance with the constitution. "There was no violation of any constitutional provision," he told reporters at his office.
The elected lawmakers are to be sworn in within three days after the Election Commission issues gazette notification on their election as per Article 148 of the constitution, said Mahbubey Alam. He said the new MPs would take their office after January 24 as the existing parliament would be dissolved on that day.
AL leader Tofail Ahmed, who also took oath as MP, said that what they did agreed with the constitutional provisions.
AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam said that after they took oath, Khaleda Zia was no longer an MP. "Now she (Khaleda) is not the opposition leader as it's an official post," he said.
Responding to a query, he said the prime minister could dissolve the new parliament anytime and arrange a fresh election.
Jatiya Party chief HM Ershad and four other MPs were not sworn in yesterday. A number of JP leaders said Ershad would take oath today or tomorrow.
The newly elected lawmakers belong to the AL, JP, Workers Party, Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, Bangladesh Nationalist Front (BNF), JP-Manju, and Tarikat Federation. The rest are independents.
Of the new MPs, more than 100 were elected for the first time.