Constitution of Bahamas




137.- (1) In this Constitution, unless it is otherwise provided or required by the context-

"Act" or "Act of Parliament" means any law made by Parliament ;

"The Bahamas" means The Commonwealth of The Bahamas ;

"the Commonwealth" means, save as otherwise prescribed, The Bahamas, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Sri Lanka, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Cyprus, Sierra Leone, Malta, Zambia, The Gambia, Singapore, Guyana, Lesotho, Botswana, Barbados, Mauritius, Swaziland, Tonga, Fiji, Western Samoa, Nauru, Bangladesh and any dependency of any such country ;

"election" means an election of a member or members of the House of Assembly ;

"the Gazette" means the Official Gazette of The Bahamas;

"House" means either the Senate or the House of Assembly or both, as the context may require ;

"high judicial office" means the office of judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court ;

"law" includes any instrument having the force of law and any un written rule of law,and "lawful" and "lawfully" shall be construed accordingly ;

"Minister" includes a temporary Minister appointed under Article 76 of this Constitution, except in relation to Articles 72, 73, 76 and 86 of this Constitution ;

"Minister of Finance" means the Minister, by whatever title styled, responsible for Government finance ;

"oath" includes affirmation;

"Parliament" means the Parliament of The Bahamas ;

"the Police Force" means the Police Force established in and for The Bahamas and maintained under the provisions f the Police Act 1965(a) or any law amending or replacing that Act ;

"prescribed" means provided by or under and Act of Parliament;

"public office" means, subject tot he provisions of paragraph (6) of this

Article and Article 127 of this Constitution, any office of emolument in the public service;

"public officer" means the holder of ny public office and includes any person appointed to act in any such office;

"the public service" means,subject to the provisions of Article 127 of this Constitution,t he service other Crown in a civil capacity in respect of the Government of The Bahamas ;

"session" means, in relation to a House, the sitting of that House commencing when it first meets after this Constitution comes into operation or after any general election or prorogation of Parliament and terminating when Parliament is prorogue or is dissolves without having been prorogue ;

"sitting" means, in relation to a House, a period during which that House is sitting continuously without adjournment and includes any period during which the House is in committee.

(2) For the purposes of this Constitution the territory of The Bahamas shall comprise all the areas that were comprised therein immediately before 10th July 1973 together with such other areas as Parliament may declare to form part thereof.

(3) For the purposes of Articles 42, 43, 48 and 49 of this Constitution-

a) "government contract" means, subject to such exception as Parliament may prescribe, any contract made with the Government of The Bahamas or with a department of that Government or with and officer of that Government contracting as such ; and

b) a person shall be deemed to be interested in a government contract if-

i) subject to such exceptions as Parliament may prescribe, he is a party to such a contract or a partner in a firm or director or manager of a company which is a party to such a contract ; or

ii) he is otherwise interested in such a contract in such manner as Parliament may prescribe.

(4) In this Constitution,unless it is otherwise provided or required by the context-

a) any reference to the date on which this Constitution comes into operation shall be construed as a reference to the appointed day referred to in section 1(2) of the Order in Council to which this Constitution is scheduled;

b) any reference to a law (which term shall, without prejudice to the definition in paragraph (1) of this Article, include an Act) shall be construed as including a reference to a law made at any time before this Constitution comes into operation ;

c) any reference to power to make appointments to any office shall be construed as including a reference to power to make appointments on promotion and transfer to that office and to power to appoint a person to act in that office during any period during which it is vacant or the holder thereof is unable (whether by reason of absence or of infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) to perform the functions of that office ;

d) any reference to the holder of an office by a term designating or describing his office shall be construed as including a reference to any person for the time being acting in that office or, tot he extent of his authority, otherwise authorized to perform the functions of that office.

(5) Where by this Constitution any person is directed, or power is conferred on any person or authority to appoint a person, to act in or otherwise to perform the functions of an office if the holder thereof is unable to perform the functions of that office, the validity of any performance of those functions by the person so directed or of any appointment in exercise of that power shall not be called in question in any court on the ground that the holder of the office id not unable to perform the functions of the office.

(6) For the purpose of this Constitution, a person shall not be considered to hold a public office by reason only that he is in receipt of a pension or other like allowance in respect of public service.

(7) References in this Constitution to the power to remove a public officer from his office shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be construed as including references to any power conferred by any law to require or permit that officer to retire from the public service.

(8) Save as otherwise provided in this Constitution, any provisions of this Constitution that vests in any person or authority power to remove any public officer (other than a public officer mentioned in paragraph(9) of this Article) form his office shall be without prejudice to the power of any person or authority to abolish any office of to any law providing for the compulsory retirement of public officers generally or any class of public officer on attaining an age specified therein.

(9) If any circumstances arise that, under the provisions of this Constitution, require the Governor to remove a Justice of the Supreme Court or a Justice of Appeal or the Commissioner of Police, the Deputy Commissioner of Police or the Auditor-General from office for inability to discharge the functions of his office, such removal may be carried out either by dismissing that officer or by requiring him to retire.

(10) Where any power is conferred by this Constitution to make any proclamation, order, rules or regulations or to give any direction, the power shall be construed as including a power exercisable in like manner to amend or revoke any such proclamation, order, rules, regulation or direction.

(11) Any person appointed to an office under any provisions in this Constitution may resign that office. Except as otherwise provided in this Constitution such resignation shall be made in writing to the person in whom under this Constitution the power is vested to make appointments to the office concerned.

(12) Where two or more persons are holding the same office by reason of an appointment made in pursuance of paragraph (4) of this Article, then-

a) for the purposes of any function conferred upon the holder on that office; and

b) for the purposes of any reference in this Constitution to the absence, illness or inability to perform the functions of his office of the holder of that office,

the person last appointed to the office shall be deemed to be the sole holder of the office.

(13) The Interpretation Act of The Bahamas(a) and all amendments thereto as in force on 10th July 1973 shall apply, with the necessary adaptations, for the purpose of interpreting this Constitution and otherwise in relation thereto as it applies for the purpose of interpreting and in relation to Acts of Parliament of The Bahamas.


(This Note is not part of the Order.)

By virtue of the Bahamas Independence Act 1973, The Bahamas will attain fully responsible status within the Commonwealth on 10th July 1973, This Order makes provisions for a Constitution for The Bahamas to come into effect on that day, including provision for the legislature,the executive government, the judicature and the public service, The Constitution also contains provisions relating to citizen ship of the Bahamas and fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual.

Constitution of Bahamas

Chapter I - The Constitution

1. The State

2. The Constitution is supreme law

Chapter II - Citizenship

3. Persons who become citizens on 10th July 1973

4. Persons who become citizens on 9th July 1974

5. Persons entitled to be registered as citizens

6. Persons born in The Bahamas after 9th July 1973

7. Persons born The Bahamas after 9th July 1973 of non-citizen parents

8. Persons born outside The Bahamas after 9th July 1973

9. Further provisions for persons born outside The Bahamas after 9th July 1973

10. Marriage to citizens of The Bahamas

11. Deprivation of citizenship

12. Renunciation of citizenship

13. Power of Parliament

14. Interpretation

Chapter III - Protection Of Fundamental Rights And Freedoms Of The Individual

15. Fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual

16. Protection of right to life

17. Protection from inhuman treatment

18. Protection from slavery and forced labour

19. Protection from arbitrary arrest or detention

20. Provisions to secure protection of law

21. Protection for privacy of home and other property

22. Protection of freedom of conscience

23. Protection of freedom of expression

24. Protection of freedom of assembly and association

25. Protection of freedom of movement

26. Protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, etc.

27. Protection from deprivation of property

28. Enforcement of fundamental rights

29. Provisions for time of war or emergency

30. Saving of existing law

31. Interpretation

Chapter IV - The Governor-general

32. Establishment of office of Governor-General

33. Acting Governor-General

34. Deputy to Governor-General

35. Personal staff of Governor-General

36. Public Seal

37. Oaths to be taken by Governor-General

Chapter V - Parliament

Part 1 - Composition of Parliament

38. Establishment of Parliament

Part 2 - The Senate

39. Composition of Senate

40. Purpose of appointment of certain Senator

41. Qualifications for appointment as Senator

42. Disqualifications for appointments as Senator

43. Tenure of office of Senators

44. President and Vice-President

45. Determination of questions as to membership

Part 3 - House of Assembly

46. Composition of House of Assembly

47. Qualifications for membership of House of Assembly

48. Disqualifications for election as members of House of Assembly

49. Tenure of office of Members of House of Assembly

50. Speaker and Deputy Speaker

51. Determination of questions as to membership

Part 4 - Powers and Procedure of Parliament

52. Powers and Procedure of Parliament

53. Privileges of Parliament

54. Alteration of this Constitution

55. Regulation of procedure in Parliament

56. Presiding in the Senate and House of Assembly

57. Quorum

58. Voting

59. Introduction of Bills, etc

60. Restriction on powers of Senate as to Money Bills

61. Restriction on powers of Senate as to Bills other than Money Bills

62. Provisions relating to Articles 59, 60 and 61

63. Assent to Bills

64. Oath of allegiance

Part 5 - Summoning Prorogation and Dissolution

65. Sessions of Parliament

66. Prorogation and dissolution of Parliament

67. General election, bye-elections and appointment of Senators

Part 6 - Delimitation of Constituencies

68. Constituencies

69. Constituencies Commission

70. Procedure for review of constituencies

Chapter VI - The Executive

71. Executive Authority

72. The Cabinet

73. Appointment of Ministers

74. Tenure of office of Ministers

75. Performance of functions of Prime Minister during absence, illness or suspension

76. Temporary Ministers

77. Allocation of portfolios to Ministers

78. Functions of Attorney-General

79. Exercise of Governor-General's powers

80. Governor-General to be informed concerning matters of Government

81. Parliamentary Secretaries

82. Leader of the Opposition

83. Certain vacancies in office of Leader of the Opposition

84. Oaths to be taken by Ministers, etc

85. Leave of absence for Ministers, etc

86. Summoning of and presiding in Cabinet

87. Quorum

88. Permanent Secretaries

89. Constitution of offices, etc

90. Powers of pardon, etc

91. Advisory Committee on Prerogative of Mercy

92. Functions of Advisory Committee

Chapter VII - The Judicature

Part 1 - The Supreme Court

93. Establishment of Supreme Court

94. Appointment of Justices of Supreme Court

95. Acting Justices

96. Tenure of office of Justice of Supreme Court

97. Oaths to be taken by Justices of Supreme Court

Part 2 - Court of Appeal

98. Establishment of Court of Appeal

99. Justices of the Court of Appeal

100. Other arrangements for appeals

101. Acting Justices of Court of Appeal

102. Tenure of office of Justices of Appeal

103. Oaths to be taken by Justices of Appeal

Part 3 - Appeals to Court of Appeal and Her Majesty in Council

104. Appeals relating to fundamental rights and freedoms

105. Appeals to Her Majesty in Council in other cases

106. Interpretation of "Court of Appeal

Chapter VIII - The Public Service

Part 1 - The Public Service Commission

107. Establishment and composition of Public Officers

Part 2 - Appointments etc. of Public Officers

108. Appointments, etc. of public officers

109. Appointments of Permanent Secretaries and certain other public officers

110. Delegation of Governor-General's powers

111. Appointments, etc. of principal representatives of The Bahamas abroad

112. Appointments on transfer in respect of certain offices

113. Appointment of Secretary to the Cabinet

Part 3 - The Public Service Board of Appeal

114. Public Service Board of Appeal

115. Appeals in discipline cases

Part 4 - The Judicial and Legal Service Commission

116. Establishment and composition of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission

117. Appointments, etc. of judicial and legal officers

Part 5 - The Police Service Commission

118. Establishment and composition of the Police Service Commission

119. Appointment of Commissioner of Police and other officers of the Police Force

120. Removal of the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of Police

121. Removal and discipline of members of the Force

Part 6 - Pensions

122. Protection of pension rights

123. Grant and withholding of pensions, etc

124. Appeals in respect of certain decisions affecting pensions benefits

Part 7 - Miscellaneous

125. Procedure of Commissions

126. Removal from office of certain persons

127. Public Service

Chapter IX - Finance

128. Consolidated Fund

129. Estimates

130. Authority for public expenditure

131. Withdrawal of money from the Consolidated Fund

132. Withdrawal of money in advance of Appropriation Act

133. Contingencies Fund

134. Public Debt

135. Remuneration of Governor-General and certain other officers

136. Establishment of office and functions of Auditor-General

Chapter X - Interpretation

137. Interpretation

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