Awami League general secretary, Syed Ashraful Islam, yesterday saw Speaker of Jatiyo Sangsad Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury to discuss ways to strip former minister Abdul Latif Siddique of his parliamentary seat after the party he belonged to expelled him for derogatory comments on Hajj and the Prophet Muhammad.
“I am going to the party office now. If the party leader [Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina] signs the letter, I will send it to the Speaker for necessary action,” Syed Ashraf told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday in reply to a question on whether his party would write to the Speaker to strip Latif Siddique of his membership of parliament.
He said the Speaker had assured him that she would take action in line with the constitution and relevant laws.
Syed Ashraf earlier told a press conference that Latif Siddique would cease to be an MP if he lost his membership of the Awami League.
But precedents in previous parliaments show that two MPs — Abu Hena of the BNP in the 8th parliament and HM Golam Reza of the Jatiya Party in the 9th parliament — were expelled from their respective parties but retained their seats in the house.
Abu Hena was expelled from the party on November 23, 2005. The then speaker Barrister Muhammad Jamiruddin Sircar ruled in the House that Abu Hena neither resigned from the BNP nor voted against the party decision, as enshrined in article 70 of the constitution. The ex-speaker declared that he retain his seat as an independent lawmaker until the end of the 8th parliament on October 27, 2006.
Former speaker Abdul Hamid did not strip Golam Reza of his parliamentary membership either, despite his expulsion from the Jatiya Party. Golam retained his seat for the full tenure of the 9th parliament.
On Sunday, Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury held a meeting with officials of the parliament secretariat to discuss Latif Siddique’s parliament membership. The officials observed that a decision on his membership in this situation was the prerogative of the Speaker, not the election commission.
How Latif Siddique can lose membership
According to Article 66 (2), an MP may cease to be a lawmaker if she or he is disqualified under any law.
The same article stipulates that any dispute regarding whether an elected MP has been disqualified from retaining parliament membership must be settled through the election commission.
The Representation of the People Order, 1972 says an elected MP will have to have membership of a registered political party in order to retain membership.
“I have examined the necessary provisions of the constitution and the relevant laws. I will certainly give my judgement according to the law after the Awami League letter comes,” the Speaker told the Dhaka Tribune.
She said an MP elected on a party ticket was unlikely to become an independent lawmaker.