The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is the constitutional document of Bangladesh. It was adopted on 16 December 1972. It provides the framework of the Bangladeshi republic with a parliamentary government, fundamental human rights and freedoms, an independent judiciary, democratic local government and a national bureaucracy. The constitution includes references to socialism, Islam, secular democracy and the Bengali language. It commits Bangladesh to “contribute to international peace and co-operation in keeping with the progressive aspirations of mankind”. The constitution has several controversial elements like Article 70.
Judicial precedent is enshrined in Bangladesh's constitution under Article 111, which makes Bangladesh an integral part of the common law world. Judicial review is also supported by the constitution.
The advent of British rule in the 18th century displaced the centuries of governance developed by South Asian empires. The Regulating Act of 1773 passed by the Parliament of the United Kingdom was the first basic law in the Bengal Presidency. The British Empire did not grant universal suffrage and democratic institutions to its colonies. The British slowly granted concessions for home rule. The Government of India Act 1858, Indian Councils Act 1861, Indian Councils Act 1892 and Indian Councils Act 1909 were later important laws of government. The legislatures of British India included the Bengal Legislative Council and the Eastern Bengal and Assam Legislative Council in the early 20th century. The Nehru Report recommended for universal suffrage, a bi-cameral legislature, a senate and a house of representatives. The Fourteen Points of Jinnah demanded provincial autonomy and quotas for Muslims in government. The Government of India Act 1935 established provincial parliaments based on separate electorates.
The 1940 Lahore Resolution, supported by the first Prime Minister of Bengal, asked the British government that "the North Western and Eastern Zones of (British) India should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’". It further proclaimed "that adequate, effective and mandatory safeguards should be specifically provided in the constitution for minorities in these units and in the regions for the protection of their religious, cultural, economic, political, administrative and other rights". The resolution's status is akin to the magna carta in Bangladesh and Pakistan, in terms of the concept of independence. On 20 June 1947, the Bengal Legislative Assembly voted on the partition of Bengal. It was decided by 120 votes to 90 that, if Bengal remained united, it should join the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. At a separate meeting of legislators from West Bengal, it was decided by 58 votes to 21 that the province should be partitioned and that West Bengal should join the Constituent Assembly of India. At another separate meeting of legislators from East Bengal, it was decided by 106 votes to 35 that Bengal should not be partitioned and 107 votes to 34 that East Bengal should join the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan if Bengal was partitioned. On 6 July 1947, the Sylhet referendum voted to partition Sylhet Division from Assam Province and merge it into East Bengal. On 11 August 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the president of the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, declared that religious minorities would enjoy full freedom of religion in the emergent new state.