The parliamentary committee system in Bangladesh [Elektronische Ressource] : an analysis of its functioning / submitted by K. M. Mahiuddin

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The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh An Analysis of its Functioning Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde der Fakultät Fur Wirtschafts und Sozialwissenschaften der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Dissertation Submitted by K.M. Mahiuddin Supervisors Professor Subrata Kumar Mitra, Ph.D. (Rochester) Professor Dr. Marcus Nüsser The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh An Analysis of Its Functioning Ph.D. Dissertation Department of Political Science South Asia Institute Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Abstract  In modern democracies, parliament has numerous duties. As a key state organ it examines the legislative proposals in the process of their passage and is entrusted with overseeing executive  responsibilities  and  keeps  an  eye  on  government  activities.  Parliamentary committee system is the most vital structure that permits the legislators to divide up their labor and specialize in particular areas of activities. It is therefore the most significant legislative mechanism and is often referred to as “miniature legislatures” or “microcosms” of their parent bodies.    There is a tendency around the world to rely on committees for accomplishing much of the parliamentary activities.

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The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh
An Analysis of its Functioning














Inaugural-Dissertation zur Erlangung der Doktorwürde der Fakultät Fur Wirtschafts
und Sozialwissenschaften der Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg










Dissertation Submitted by

K.M. Mahiuddin









Supervisors

Professor Subrata Kumar Mitra, Ph.D. (Rochester)

Professor Dr. Marcus Nüsser The Parliamentary Committee System in Bangladesh
An Analysis of Its Functioning
















Ph.D. Dissertation


















Department of Political Science
South Asia Institute
Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg

Abstract 

In modern democracies, parliament has numerous duties. As a key state organ it examines 
the legislative proposals in the process of their passage and is entrusted with overseeing 
executive  responsibilities  and  keeps  an  eye  on  government  activities.  Parliamentary 
committee system is the most vital structure that permits the legislators to divide up their 
labor and specialize in particular areas of activities. It is therefore the most significant 
legislative mechanism and is often referred to as “miniature legislatures” or “microcosms” 
of their parent bodies.   
 
There is a tendency around the world to rely on committees for accomplishing much of the 
parliamentary activities. In this regard, Bangladesh is not an exception. Being a South Asian 
country, it has had familiarity with committee system since last century when the country 
was  under  British  colonial  rule.  Bangladesh  emerged  as  an  independent  state  in  1971 
following nearly two centuries of British rule and a further quarter century of Pakistan. The 
new state of Bangladesh adopted parliamentary system of government. All legislative power 
of the state were vested to the parliament. Though all favorable conditions for parliamentary 
democracy were ensured in the constitution, differences between the political parties and 
overwhelming domination of government party and their refusal to recognize the official 
opposition  party  in  the  parliament  prevented  building  a  responsible  executive.  In  a 
sweeping  change,  parliamentary  form  of  government  was  replaced  by  one  party‐
presidential system and soon the new system was abolished when the military seized the 
state by a bloody military coup in 1975. Between 1975 and 1990, the country was under 
military  dominated  civil‐military  regimes.  Parliaments  formed  during  this  period  were 
intended to serve the purpose of the regime’s interests. With mass upsurge, authoritarian 
regime was ended and parliamentary form of government was restored in 1991.  
 
Since the restoration of parliamentary democracy in Bangladesh, committee system is taken 
seriously in the political as well as in the academic arena because of its importance in the 
parliamentary process. Therefore, this study intends to analyze the functioning and role of 
parliamentary committees in the post‐1990 Bangladesh parliament. In doing so, this study 
I
identifies and examines the factors that have considerable influence in the working of the 
parliamentary committees in general and Bangladesh in particular.  
 
The methodology applied in this research is a combination of historical, analytical and 
descriptive approaches. Descriptive and analytical approaches are chosen to show in what 
institutional environments committees are working in the Bangladesh parliament. Much of 
the analyses that follow are based on the examination of the proceedings and reports of the 
important committees, Rules of Procedure of the JS. Other secondary sources include books 
of the reputed scholars and articles published in various journals, working papers and study 
reports, newspapers published at home and abroad. Socio‐political characteristics of the 
committee members are calculated from the parliamentary records and the questionnaire 
used  for  the  interviews.  Besides,  information  is  also  gathered  from  discussion  with 
prominent political leaders and academia.  
 
The  analysis  presents  in  this  study  showed  that  the  committees  were  more  active  in 
overseeing  government  activities  rather  than  analyzing  policy  issues.  In  a  conflicting 
political environment, committee activities are greatly influenced by the political parties. 
Lack  of  compromise  between  the  parties  to  some  extent  makes  the  committees 
dysfunctional. Despite the existing limitations, committees provide a training ground for the 
legislators to improve their parliamentary norms and procedural knowledge.  
II
DECLARATION 
 
 
 
 
 
 
I do hereby declare that I have written this PhD thesis myself, and that it has not 
been submitted to any other university for a degree.  
 
 
 
 
 
K.M. Mahiuddin  
 
Heidelberg, February 8, 2009  
III
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

In the writing of this thesis, I have received great help from various academics, colleagues,
friends and many other people. First I must express my debt of gratitude to my supervisor,
Professor Subrata Kumar Mitra at the Department of Political Science, South Asia Institute,
Heidelberg University, for his intellectual support. His kind guidance and constant support
enabled me to complete this research work. It must be mentioned that his scholarly
supervision helped me clarify my thoughts and ideas. Also, I owe special gratitude to Prof.
Marcus Nüsser, my co-supervisor at Heidelberg, who examined the manuscript and made
incisive observations, and helped me to improve my work.

Professor Gerhard Loewenberg, the distinguished Professor of Political Science of Lowa
University was kind enough to make some valuable comments after reading my research
proposal. I am also grateful to Mrs. Angelika Koester-Lossack, Gert Weisskirchen and Lothar
Binding, Members of the German Bundestag who helped me to understand German
parliamentary politics. I greatly benefited through contact with Professor Dr. Dietmar
Rothermund, Professor William Sax, Professor Dr. Gita Dharampal-Frick and Dr. Wolfgang-
Peter-Zingel at the University of Heidelberg. I am very thankful to Siegfried O. Wolf, Jiva
Schöttli, Malte Pehl, Dr. Karsten Frey and Bashir Ahmed for their spontaneous help and
suggestions. I owe debt to Uschi Schmitt-Koehler who cared so much for me. She helped me
in very many capacities.

I would like to express my wholehearted thanks to Mrs. Marie-Paule who continuously
encouraged me to carry out my research work. Her valuable suggestions made lots of things
easier for my family in Germany.

I am grateful to a number of staff associated with the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg
University Library and the Max-Plank Institute of Law, for their assistance. I wish to express
my thanks and gratitude to Frau Barbara Neef, the Faculty of Economics and Social Science,
Heidelberg University for her cooperation. I would like to express my gratitude to Frau
Zimmermann and her colleagues of Akademische Auslandsamt, Heidelberg University for
their cooperation and suggestions regarding student facilities. I am also grateful to Jyotish
Chandra Debnath, Assistant Secretary of the Committee Section II of the Bangladesh Jatiya
Sangsad for providing me with necessary documents and information. I am thankful to Mr.
IV
Ali Akber, Research Officer of the Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad Library for offering me
assistance during my working in the library.

I would like to acknowledge the financial help of the DAAD. This fellowship helped me to
carry out my research work in Germany. I am also grateful to Benedikt von Romberg of
DAAD for his enormous support and advice regarding DAAD support/service. I am grateful
to the authority of the Jahangirnagar University for granting me leave to pursue my doctoral
work in Germany. I am thankful to my colleagues at the Department of Government &
Politics, Jahangirnagar University for their cooperation. I am especially grateful to Prof. Dr.
Golam Hossain for introducing me to Prof. Subrata Kumar Mitra and recommending me.

I am truly indebted to Ainoon Naher, Riad, Elora, Kishore Babu, Annete and Hans who
helped me and my family in various ways when we were in Heidelberg. I would like to
mention here specially the valuable help of Dr. Malobika Sarker, Mr. Abdul Malek and his
family in Heidelberg. They sincerely helped me for the course of doctoral work in their many
capacities. I am also thankful to Adud Raihan, Hasibur Rahman, Maeid Nur Chowdhury and
Sharif Ahmed for their assistance in collecting information and materials from various
sources. I would like express my deep gratitude to Dr. Shusil Kumar Das, Associate
Professor, Department of English, Eastern University, Dhaka and Dr. Maniruzzaman,
Associate Professor, Department of English, Jahangirnagar University who made some
valuable linguistic corrections after reading my dissertation.

I am indebted to my family members for their care and affection which encouraged me to
study home and abroad. I must express my gratitude to my brother in law Abdullah-Al-Baki
who spontaneously encouraged me to pursue my research work; he died in a road accident on
19 April 2006.

My special gratitude goes to Monada Begum (Lucky), my wife and K.M. Fazlay Rabbie
(Onindo), our five years old son for understanding me. They granted me countless time for
working over the dissertation paper for the last several years. The last, but the most important
at all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my teachers Professor Al Masud
Hasanuzzaman and Professor Naseem Akhter Hussain who helped enormously for
completing my research work. So it is my pleasure to dedicate my thesis to my family and to
my teachers.
V
CONTENTS

Abstract ….………………………………………………………………………I
Declaration….……………………………………………………………………III
Acknowledgments……………………………………………………………… IV
Contents………………………… VI
List of Tables ………….…………………………………………IX
List of Figures and Boxes………………………..X
Abbreviations…………………………………………………………………… XI
Glossary of Bengali Terms……………………………………….XII

CHAPTER I
Introduction and Conceptual Framework
1.1 Introduction 1
1.2 Research Issues 3
1.3 Background of Conceptual Framework 3
1.3.1 Evolution of Parliamentary Structures 4
1.3.2 Significance of Committee System 9
1.4 Conceptual Framework 13
1.5 Literature Review 27
1.6 Methodology of the Study 34
1.7 Overview of the Study 35
CHAPTER II
Parliamentary Committees in the Developed and Developing
Democracies: A Comparative Discussion
2.1 Formal-Legal Basis of Committee Structures 37
2.2 Committee Structure and Size 40
2.3 Selection of Committee Chairpersons and Members 50
2.4 Committee Procedure 55
2.5 Delineation of the Committee Functions 57
CHAPTER III
Parliamentary Structures in Bangladesh: A Historical Account
3.1 Sabha -Samiti and Panchayats: Tradition of Representative Institutions 66
3.2 Parliamentary Structures: British Colonial Period (1854-1947) 68
3.3 Parliamentary Structures in Pakistan (1947-1971) 83
VI
3.4 Parliamentary Structures in Independent Bangladesh 92
CHAPTER IV
Committees in the Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad: Structure and Functions
4.1 Formal-Legal Framework 95
4.2 Committee Structure 98
4.3 Committee Procedure 106
4.4 Committees and Parties 113
CHAPTER V
Social Standing of the Committee Members
5.1 Occupational Background 124
5.2 Educational Background 130
5.3 Age and Seniority 131
5.4 Party Experience 132
5.5 Parliamentary Experience 133
5.6 Status of Different Committees 135
5.7 Women in the Jatiya Sangsad and the Committees 136

CHAPTER VI
Parliamentary Support Services
6.1 Nature of Parliamentary Support Services 145
6.2 Bangladesh Parliament Secretariat: Legal Basis and Structures 146
6.3 Logistics and Research Facilities 152
6.4 Pay and Allowances for the Members 155
6.5 Parliamentary Aid/Assistance 158

CHAPTER VII
Committee Process in the Bangladesh Jatiya Sangsad
7.1 Committees in the Legislative Process 162
7.2 Committees in Overseeing Process 174
7.3 Financial Overseeing 194
7.4 Working of the Government Assurance Committee 206
7.5 Working of the Petitions Committee 207
7.6 Working of the Special Committees 208
VII
CHAPTER VIII
The Committee and the Public
8.1 Media 211
8.2 Civil Society 222

CHAPTER IX
Summary and Conclusion 228

Biblography 242

Appendices
Appendix I Activities of the Ministerial Standing Committees 259
Appendix II Parliament and Committees in the Constitution of Bangladesh 261
Appendix III Excerpts from the Rules of Procedure of Bangladesh 266
Appendix IV Bangladesh: Chronology of Political Events 280
Appendix IV Interview Questionnaire 289
VIII