FOR MILLIONS of people in impoverished Bangladesh, it seems to have ushered a political blessing. The nation which fought a bloody war of independence in 1971 against Pakistan to establish secularism and democracy was obliterated by military juntas and autocratic governments.
Bangladesh's first constitution included secularism, democracy, socialism and nationalism as key political philosophy which reflects the spirit of independence war, when the eastern province severed from Pakistan in 1971.
After the assassination of the "founding father" Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a military putsch in 1975, the military-backed government of General Zia-ur Rahman doctored the constitution's guiding principle and scribbled "Bismillah'ir Rahman'ir Rahim (Faith in Allah)" in 1979.
In an election strategy Mujib's daughter Sheikh Hasina led Awami League swept to power in 2008. Her party's electoral promises were restoration of secularism and trial of war criminals.
The Supreme Court in its landmark verdict forbids political parties which advocates Islamic philosophy. The apex court also asked to reinstate the four key principles in the constitution which existed 38 years ago.
Law Minister Shafique Ahmed claimed that there is no hindrance to reinstate "secularism in the constitution" as advised in the Supreme Court's ruling. "The amendments that were enforced by military orders during the four years of misrule have been declared illegal and repealed by the Supreme Court."
In two separate voluminous judgements in July and August, the court pulled down the Fifth Amendment of 1979 and Seventh Amendment of 1986, including provisions that allowed religious based politics, which was legitimized by tyrannical rules of military generals during the period of August 15, 1975 to April 9, 1979 and March 24, 1982, and November 10, 1986 respectively.
Another military junta leader General Husain Muhammad Ershad dared to rewrite the constitution which determines "Islam as state religion" of once secular Bangladesh.
The court in a latest ruling said seventh amendment retroactively legitimized the very acts that successfully engineered the coup spearheaded by then Chief of Army staff Lt. Gen. H.M. Ershad after over-throwing an elected president Justice Abdus Sattar in March 1982.
The higher court judges noted, "The proclamation of martial law and its regulations and orders and all actions under this law shall remain illegal until Qayamat (the Judgment Day).
"The martial law was beyond the mandate of the constitution and will be invalid for eternity," and said "a usurper is a usurper." It is deemed that the judgement squarely blamed both the Generals have acted as a usurper to grab the state power.
Earlier in July, the apex court in its verdict on the Fifth Amendment said, "The perpetrators of such illegalities should also be suitably punished and condemned so that in future no adventurist, no usurper, would dare to defy the people, their constitution, their government, established by them with their consent."
The court recommends "suitable punishment" to "extra constitutional adventurers", the predators of democracy who ushered military regimes and sanctioned martial laws.
General Zia was assassinated in a military coup d'état in 1982 and General Ershad overthrown in 1990 after bloody pro-democracy revolution. He served prison sentence for corruption but is key ally coalition of the ruling party.
Ershad promptly accepted the verdict, but confidently said there is no law to try an usurper.
Excited Shahriar Kabir, a secularist writer and staunch advocate for the trial of the war criminals said the people's mandate in the last general election for restoration of secularism and trial of perpetrators responsible for crime against humanity in 1971.
"Religious based politics was banned after brutal birth of Bangladesh. We have seen youths belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami were engaged as henchmen of marauding Pakistan military. They raised Al-Badr, a death squad to kidnap and murder hundreds of intellectuals who could not escape for their safety and security," he explained.
The journalist and film-maker Kabir said General Zia, after the assassination of President Mujibur Rahman in a bid to gain political support for his legitimacy of usurping power to the surprise of all, withdrew the ban on religious politics and allowed Islamic parties to regain grounds.
Most of his hand-picked cabinet ministers were drawn from Muslim League, Maoist and other rogue Islamic groups including those politically and physically opposed the birth of Bangladesh. Kabir said, incidentally most were blamed for their alleged involvement in crime against humanity.
General Zia despite being a Mukti Bahini (guerrilla force) commanding officer and took military assistance from India to liberate the country from the repressive rule of Pakistan, he did not hesitate to restore two-nation theory of independent Islamic states in Indian sub-continent. He also got rid of secularism and inserted Bismillah'ir Rahman'ir Rahim (Faith in Allah) in the constitution.