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June 29, 2003 

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  New Chief Justice appointed

Justice Khandaker Mahmud-ul Hasan has been appointed as the 13 th Chief Justice of Bangladesh. He replaced Jucstice Mainur Reza Chowdhury. He was made the chief justice superseding two judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court. Justice Khandaker Mahmud-ul Hasan was born on January 27, 1939. His father late justice Khandaker Mohammed Hasan came from Munshiganj. Enrolled as a Supreme Court advocate in 1963, Justice Hasan was elevated as a judge to the High Court in 1991 and the Appellate Division on January 20, 2002. He served as ambassador to Iraq from 1980 to 1982. He did his BA (Honours), MA and LLB in Dhaka, LLM in London and is a Barrister-at-Law from Lincoln's Inn. Justice Hasan had been involved with different organisations, including Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs and American Bar Association. He took part in law-related international conferences in Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Austria and Australia. - Law Desk.

Flag Vessels (Amendment) Bill tabled

The Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Amendment) Bill 2003 has been placed in the Jatiya Sangsad. The bill sought inclusion of a general waiver clause in the original law. Minister for Shipping Akbar Hossain introduced the bill seeking two amendments to the Bangladesh Flag Vessels (Protection) Ordinance 1982. Once passed, the amendment would empower the shipping directorate to allow major foreign flag vessel operator to load and unload cargoes at Bangladesh ports without taking waiver certificate for two years. - Prothom Alo, 23 June.

Verdict on Fahima rape case

A young man has been sentenced to death and two others given life imprisonment in the sensational Fahima rape case. A Speedy Trail Tribunal awarded death sentence to Sumon and life imprisonment to his uncle Halim and friend Nasir under the Women and Children Repression Prevention Act. It also ordered Halim and Nasir to pay Tk 1 lakh to the family of the victim. Judge Jahangir Alam Mollah delivered the 32-page judgement about 15 months after the incident. According to the case, Sumon used to tease 13-year-old Fahima. At 9:30pm on March 3 last year, Fahima went to his brother Rafiq's shop to eat Chatpati. When Rafiq went home to bring some spices, Sumon and Nasir forcibly took Fahima to a room of one Keramat Ali in Tolarbagh. Sumon raped her with the help of Nasir and Helal. Fahima hanged herself from the ceiling of her room with a scarf the same night. Her father filed a case with the Mirpur Police Station. Sub-inspector Rowshan Ara submitted the chargesheet within 12 days. The hearing of the case could not be held for 10 months as the witnesses did not appear before the court. The trial began on May 18 this year. -Law Desk.

Body to protect consumers' interest

For the first time, the government is going to set up Consumer Affairs Bureau (CAB) to protect the rights of the consumers. The bureau would have a secretariat and 20 member national council comprising representative of various professional groups and the private sector. To be headed by a retired judge, the CAB will have the authority to take punitive action against people found guilty of hoarding essentials that causes irrational price hike. It would monitor price of essentials and take follow up actions. The national council will meet regularly and advice the government on consumer related issues. The act is being prepared in the light of Sri Lanak's experience in this regard. -Daily Star, 20 June.

Cabinet okays Special Court Bill

The government has decided to give some additional responsibility to the special courts and tribunals foro speedy disposal of case. For that purpose the cabinet has approved the Special Court (Additional Responsibility) Bill 2003 which will provide for additional responsibility to certain court for quick disposal of civil and criminal cases. - Prothom Alo, 24 June.

Sylhet jail in dilapidated condition

Sylhet jail, which was constructed in 1917, is now on the brink of collapse. The main building and the boundary walls of the jail are in a ramshackle condition. Non functioning of it's drainage system compounding the problems. The main buildings and boundary walls of the 85-year-old crammed jail are in a ramshackle condition. The jail hospital building had been declared 'abandoned' by the Public Works Department (PWD) two years ago and shifted into a tin-shed structure. Lack of staff, facility and medicine expose the prisoners to serious health hazards. -Daily Star, 21 June

Call to frame policy for NGOs'

Speakers at a roundtable meeting stressed formulation of a policy for NGOs' in the country. The Credit and Development Forum (CDF) organised the meeting titled ' Internal Resource Mobilistion for Poverty Alleviation Through Micro Finance'. The speakers said that there are too many NGOs' in the country and most of them are doing noting but their own business. They mentioned that the system for registration of NGOs should be tightened and their rates of interest should be lowered. They also said the NGOs charge high rate of interest, making economic activity with their loans unviable. - Daily Star. 22 June.

Recreation facility for DCJ inmates

A welfare program is being taken for the inmates of the Dhaka Central Jail (DCJ) who live their prison days in squalid conditions. Under the program 800 ceiling fans will be provided to the 36 wards of the jail. This would lessen the prisoners' plight on hot summer days. However, inmates living in cells will not get any fans in apprehension of prisoners committing suicide. They will later be provided with fans fitted to walls. In addition fifty television sets will also be installed in the wards. But the biggest improvement the jail will have is the introduction of a central public address system. The names of visitors and prisoners will be announced through loud speakers in the wards. Various donors are providing fund for this program. - Daily Star, 19June.

BAC presses graft charges against 10

The Bureau of Anti-Corruption (BAC) has pressed charges against former state minister for energy Prof Rafiqul Islam and 10 others for misappropriation of Tk 44 crore in the 60 MW Shahjibazar power plant corruption case. The charge sheet was filed by the IO of the case with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court, Dhaka. Former Power Development Board (PDB) chairman Nuruddin Mahmud Kamal has also been charged. According to the charge sheet, the accused manipulated the tender bidding for the 60 MW power project. Though the lowest bidding was Tk 109 crore, the accused raised the project costs, forcing the government to incur an additional expenditure. - Ittefaq, 16 June.

Task force to combat drug smuggling

The government is planing to form a task force comprising representatives from various government agencies to combat drug smuggling and trade. It has been suggested that the director (operation) of the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) would head the task force and a representative from the DNC zonal office would be its member secretary. The task force will include a commanding officer of Bangladesh Rifles, representatives from the Bangladesh Railway, district police, railway police, ansar, Village Defense Party, Town Defense Party as well as members of parliament and other public representatives from the bordering areas. - Daily Star, 24 June.

Criminal case against policemen

A criminal case has been filed with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's Court of Dhaka against for police personnel. The accused are Assistant Commissioner Manzur Morshed, Inspector Newaz Ali, Officer in Charge of Dhanmondi police station Mozammel Huq and Sub-Inspector Akhter Hossain. Advocate Navana Akhter filed the case accusing the policemen of assaulting her and some of other women while they were in a procession during hartal on 13 May 2003. After hearing metropolitan magistrate Emdadul Haque took the case into cognizance. He asked the DMP commissioner to file a case under relevant sections after investigation. - Daily Star, 18 June.

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