Role of MPs
The post-election parliamentary process commences with the administration of oath to MPs-elect by the outgoing Speaker in accordance with the Constitution and the Rules of Procedure. The tenure of a Parliament, as we have seen, commences from its first sitting, but membership of Parliament begins from the date a member-elect takes oath of his office. An MP-elect cannot take his seat in Parliament before taking oath of office. In this regard the constitution says that if a person sits or votes as a member of Parliament before he takes the oath he becomes liable in respect of each day on which he so sits or votes to a penalty of one thousand taka to be recovered as a debt due to the Republic.
Thus an MP-elect becomes a Member of Parliament only after he has taken the oath. The scheme of the Constitution suggests that a member-elect should take oath of office as early as possible after the result has been declared but it allows a maximum of ninety days to him to do so. If he fails, he loses his seat unless the Speaker had in the meantime extended this period for good reasons.
The oath taking of Members is an essential pre-condition for the formation of the new government, because the President has to appoint as Prime Minister the Member of Parliament who commands the support of the majority of Members of Parliament. Soon after taking oath, MPs of a party or group assemble primarily to elect the leader of their respective party or group. If a party has obtained a clear majority of seats in the general election it is rather easy for the President to identity the MP who commands the support of the majority in Parliament and to invite him/her to take over as the Prime Minister and form the cabinet, which must have at least 90% of its members chosen from Members of Parliament.
Parliament has to be summoned to meet within thirty days after official declaration of results of polling in the general election. Parliament can be summoned by the President only after a Prime Minister has assumed office, for the constitution provides that Parliament shall be summoned by President upon written advice of the Prime Minister.
During the period when Parliament had 30 seats reserved for women, Members of Parliament had at least one constitutional function to perform before the first sitting of Parliament viz. to be voters in the election to seats reserved for women. Only a Member of Parliament, not MP-elect, could vote in this election. It is, however, a different matter that elections to reserved seats were never contested. The majority party always won these seats, sometimes sharing two or three seats with another party. This transitory provision regarding reservation of seats has already expired upon the dissolution of the seventh Parliament. But in the 8th Parliament in 11th session, 2004 the provision for 45 reserved women seats has been made according to the 14th amendment of the constitution for the residual period of 8th parliament and for next 10 years from the beginning of the 9th Parliament in which women MPs are to be elected on the basis of proportional representation in the Parliament through single transferable vote (STV).
The outgoing Speaker accords recognition to two Members of Parliament as the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition following the formation of government, if they are elected by the parliamentary party of the largest party in opposition before the commencement of the first session of the new Parliament. The leader and the deputy leader of the largest party or group in opposition to the government in Parliament gets that recognition which is published in the official gazette in the form of a notification. This recognition can be given only after the oath taking of members.
No person can at the same time be a Member of Parliament in respect of two or more constituencies. The law, however, allows a person to be a candidate for up to a maximum of five seats. When a person is elected as a member for more than one constituency, he earns an obligation to make a signed declaration to the Election Commission, within thirty days of his last election, specifying the constituency he wishes to represent. The seats of other constituencies for which he was elected fall vacant after this declaration. Should he fail to make the declaration within thirty days, all the seats for which he was elected fall vacant. Until a member-elect fulfils his obligation of making the signed declaration, he does not qualify to take oath as a Member of Parliament.
Administering the oath of office to a Member of Parliament is the responsibility of the Speaker or his nominee. In the absence of the Speaker, this responsibility devolves upon the Deputy Speaker. It may be recalled that the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker continue in office until their successors enter upon their respective offices. Therefore, the term 'Speaker', when used in the context of administration of oath after a general election until the new Speaker has entered into his office, always refers to the outgoing Speaker. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker of Constituent Assembly continued in office until the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the first Parliament.