Bangladesh's Non-party Caretaker Government


One of the more interesting contitutional innovations of recent times is the Bangladeshi Non-party caretaker government. This is covered in chapter IIA of the Bangladesh Constitution.


Bangladesh is a parliamentary system with a largely ceremonial President who is appointed by the Parliament. The Executive is embedded is the Legislative, similar to the Australian Westminster style systems.


In Australia the caretaker convention is that the Government does not do anything odd, unusual, or out of the ordinary during an election period in relation to governance. In most of these convention instances they remain valid only as long as someone doesn't break them.


For instance the convention prior to 1975 in Australian Federal parliament was that the States would appoint a Senator of the same party as an outgoing one. This did not happen twice in the run up to the Dismissal and soon after a constitutional amendment came down forcing this behaviour.


Presumably, a Bangladeshi government did not honour the caretaker convention, and the Bangladeshis, unwilling to trust any party machine with the caretaker convention, took over the running of government themselves during this period.


The Non-party Caretaker Government is headed by a Chief Advisor who adopts the role of Prime Minister and advises the President as head of the Executive. The Chief Advisor and up to ten other non-party advisors comprise a citizens executive cabinet and are appointed by the President.


The Chief Advisor is the last retired Chief Justice. The other advisors cannot be members of parliament, cannot be running for election, cannot be members of a party and must be under seventy-two years of age. This mixes community specialists with a judicial specialist.


The constitution grants the Chief Advisor and Advisors the remuneration and status of the Prime Minister and Ministers respectively during this period.


Like the caretaker conventions in Australia which implies no policy decisions will be made by an interim government, the Bangladesh constitution entrenches this requirement and the Non-party Caretaker Government is excluded from making policy.

From the Constitution;


58B. Non-Party Care-taker Government
    (1) There shall be a Non-Party Care-taker Government during the period from the date on which the Chief Adviser of such government enters upon office after Parliament is dissolved or stands dissolved by reason of expiration of its term till the date on which a new Prime Minister enters upon his office after the constitution of Parliament.

    (2) The Non-Party Care-taker Government shall be collectively responsible to the President.

    (3) The executive power of the Republic shall, during the period mentioned in clause (1), be exercised, subject to the provisions of article 58D(1), in accordance with this Constitution, by or on the authority of the Chief Adviser and shall be exercised by him in accordance with the advice of the Non-Party Care-taker Government.

    (4) The provisions of article 55(4), (5) and (6) shall (with the necessary adaptations) apply to similar matters during the period mentioned in clause (1).

58C. Composition of the Non-Party Care-taker Government, appointment of Advisers, etc.
    (1) Non-Party Care-taker Government shall consist of the Chief Adviser at its head and not more than ten other Advisors, all of whom shall be appointed by the President.

    (2) The Chief Adviser and other Advisers shall be appointed within fifteen days after Parliament is dissolved or stands dissolved, and during the period between the date on which Parliament is dissolved or stands dissolved and the date on which the Chief Adviser is appointed, the Prime Minister and his cabinet who were in office immediately before Parliament was dissolved or stood dissolved shall continue to hold office as such.

    (3) The President shall appoint as Chief Adviser the person who among the retired Chief Justices of Bangladesh retired last and who is qualified to be appointed as an Adviser under this article:
      Provided that if such retired Chief Justice is not available or is not willing to hold the office of Chief Adviser, the President shall appoint as Chief Adviser the person who among the retired Chief Justices of Bangladesh retired next before the last retired Chief Justice.

    (4) If no retired Chief Justice is available or willing to hold the office of Chief Advise, the President shall appoint as Chief Adviser the person who among the retired Judges of the Appellate Division retired last and who is qualified to be appointed as an Adviser under this article:

    Provided that if such retired Judge is not available or is not willing to hold the office of Chief Adviser, the President shall appoint as Chief Adviser the person who among the retired Judges of the Appellate Division retired next before the last such retired Judge.

    (5) If no retired judge of the Appellate Division is available or willing to hold the office of Chief Adviser, the President shall, after consultation, as far as practicable, with the major political parties, appoint the Chief Adviser from among citizens of Bangladesh who are qualified to be appointed as Advisers under this article.

    (6) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Chapter, if the provisions of clauses (3), (4) and (5) cannot be given effect to, the President shall assume the functions of the Chief Adviser of the Non-Party Care-taker Government in addition to his own functions under this Constitution.

    (7) The President shall appoint Advisers from among the persons who are-
      1. qualified for election as members of parliament;
      2. not members of any political party or of any organisation associated with or affiliated to any political party;
      3. not, and have agreed in writing not to be, candidates for the ensuing election of members of parliament;
      4. not over seventy-two years of age.


    (8) The Advisers shall be appointed by the President on the advice of the Chief Adviser.

    (9) The Chief Adviser or an Adviser may resign his office by writing under his hand addressed to the President.

    (10) The Chief Adviser or an Adviser shall cease to be Chief Adviser or Adviser if he is disqualified to be appointed as such under this article.

    (11) The Chief Adviser shall have the status, and shall be entitled to the remuneration and privileges, of a Prime Minister and an Adviser shall have the status, and shall be entitled to the remuneration and privileges, of a Minister.

    (12) The Non-Party Care-taker Government shall stand dissolved on the date on which the prime Minister enters upon his office after the constitution of new parliament.


58D. Functions of Non-Party Care-taker Government
    (1) The Non-Party Care-taker Government shall discharge its functions as an interim government and shall carry on the routine functions of such government with the aid and assistance of persons in the services of the Republic; and, except in the case of necessity for the discharge of such functions its shall not make any policy decision.

    (2) The Non-Party Care-taker Government shall give to the Election Commission all possible aid and assistance that may be required for bolding the general election of members of parliament peacefully, fairly and impartially.


58E. Certain provisions of the Constitution to remain ineffective
    Notwithstanding anything contained in articles 48(3), 141A(1) and 141C(1) of the Constitution, during the period the Non-Party Care-taker government is functioning, provisions in the constitution requiring the President to act on the advice of the Prime Minister or upon his prior counter-signature shall be ineffective.
cam 2006-10-17 00:43:26.0