Cabinet nods draft law stopping retirement benefits of ‘illegal presidents’

The Cabinet, in a meeting headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday, approved the final draft of the law stating the entitled benefits of the former heads of state.

Cabinet Secretary Muhammad Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan said former presidents are extended the benefits mentioned in the President’s Pension Ordinance of 1979, which had been amended once in 1988.

He added the High Court had directed the government to turn into law all ordinances issued during military rules, for which a draft had been placed on Dec 15, 2014.

It was tabled again on Monday after integrating suggestions by the Cabinet.

The ordinance only said a president would not get retirement benefits if he was found guilty by a court of moral turpitude or any other crime, according to Bhuiyan.

The draft law adds to the list presidents who were declared by the court to have come into power illegitimately or unconstitutionally.

The High Court in a 2010 verdict scrapped the Seventh Amendment to Constitution and said HM Ershad usurped power as did Khandker Mushtaq Ahmed, Abu Sadat Mohammad Sayem and Ziaur Rahman.

The Appellate Division also upheld the verdict, and the constitution was amended according to the court’s instructions.

Khandker Mushtaq declared himself the president after assassination of the nation’s founding father and president Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on Aug 15, 1975 along with most of his family.

He unconstitutionally remained president from Aug 15 to Nov 6 of that year.

After Major General Khaled Mosharraf, who declared himself army chief, was killed, Mushtaq put Major General Ziaur Rahman in the office.

Following a military coup on Nov 3 and 6, Sayem was made the president and chief martial law administrator.

He handed power to Gen Ziaur Rahman on Nov 29, 1976 and on Apr 21, 1977 stepped down from presidency citing health reasons.

Zia took over the position also and later formed government through an election. He remained president until he was assassinated in a military coup on May 30, 1981.

Gen HM Ershad, on Mar 24, 1982, removed the then president Abdus Sattar to take over the office. He ruled as chief martial law administrator until becoming the president in 1986 through an election.

He was forced to stand down in the face of a civil uprising on Dec 6, 1990 after being in charge for nine years.

When asked whether the new law would be applicable for Ershad or Zia or their families, Cabinet Secretary Bhuiyan said they do not take retirement benefits as president.

They take allowances from the defence ministry as army officials.

In response to another query, he said the family of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman never took any pension since 1979 law came into force. But the passing of the draft legislation would make them eligible.

Source: Bd news24

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