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July 27, 2003 

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Your Advocate

This week your advocate is M. Moazzam Husain of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. His professional interests include civil law, criminal law and constitutional law. Send your queries to the Law Desk, The Daily Star. A panel of lawyers
will address your problems.

Q: My husband was assassinated in his sacred place of business on 12September 2001 precisely on the 89th day of my wedding while I was in Dhaka with my mother-in-law. I was thoroughly traumatised by the death at an early stages of my pregnancy. Also my family was devastated and I was literally thrown-out with the clothes on my back by my in-laws on the 50th day of mourning. A local salish was conducted on Sept 09, 2002 under the Bagmoniram Ward Commissioner and Commissioner of Ward no. 9 and Commissioner of Chawk Bazar Ward. It was decided in the salish that I shall be paid Tk.4 Lack on 6 monthly instalments & Tk. 3,000 per month as allowance for 2 years after which, my in-laws will take my daughter born on Apr 19, 2002.
Subsequently, the Commissioner of ward 15 was arrested during the Joint Forces operations and was released in December 2002. The matter was allowed to drag on for one reason or the other & till date the local salish copy despite best efforts of other 2 Commissioners & us was not handed over to us. Ultimately a proposal was offered to me for signing the succession certificate in early March,2003 wherein I was told I will receive my 4 Lacs in full from the bank account of my late husband balance of which is also around Tk.4 Lach.
I gave a counter proposal that, my father-in-law hand over to me, a post dated cheque of his HSBC or Standard Chartered Bank Cheque (details of which are known to me). This proposal also remained hanging till the other day when my parents physically called on Giyasuddin Commissioner. He in a very rude & crude manner misbehaved with my parents giving out cock & bull story outright refusing that salish.
Subsequently, I approached my father-in-law in course of our talks he repeat his offer to pay Tk.4 lacs if I sign the succession certificate. I told him that, my counter proposal for post dated cheque & at a stage feigning total innocence he wanted a good reason for my adamant attitude.
1). I narrated the date & time when he first applied for the succession certificate; without my knowledge & criminally concealing my pregnancy status. Subsequently, a paltry sum of Tk.3000 monthly allowance which he agreed on 09/09/02 he declines to pay so, how do I realise Tk.4 lacs, I wondered aloud!
2). I countered as to why he did not lodge &/or pursue the case of assassination of my husband when the Speedy Trial Tribunal is doing an excellent job irrespective of party affiliation, knowing he being a veteran AL cadre & that, I wish to pursue this case myself.
Raging & trembling like a madman he blurted out that, if I don't behave myself at least my husband's body was found in my case, even my corpse will not be traceable. Very tactfully I beat a hasty retreat realising that, my parents went through similar situation with the assassin commissioner. So, apparently we are victims caught up in an assassins web. So, far no Advocate dare agrees to take my case & 1 Advocate who agrees says he is not responsible, should I face the consequences.
In view of aforesaid circumstances can you please expedite your advise to my future course of action as, my 2 other Commissioners are also implying their reluctance to further pursue for even obtaining the local Mediation/Salish/deed of agreement.
Rokeya Kasim Putool,
E/G9-P.O.Firozshah,P.S.Kulshi, Chittagong-4207.

Your Advocate: The way you have lost your husband is utterly shocking. The ordeal of life followed by the killing of your husband is also unfortunate. As in the case of many other widows you have landed in a fix which you have narrated in details for advice. Your manifold problems boil down to the position that you, as wife, are entitled to your share of the property left behind by your late husband; there was a salish in which it was settled between you and your in-laws that they would pay you a monthly allowance of Tk.3000/- to be continued for two years and a lump sum of Tk. 4 lach to be paid by four instalments and your in-laws would take your daughter back to her family after two years. You were also agreeable to the settlement but the negotiation could not be carried into effect and virtually lapsed into avoidance on the part of your in-laws. In March, 2003 your in-laws came to get some papers relating to a succession case signed by you on condition that if you signed those papers they would pay you the entire 4 lach Taka lying in your husband's Bank Account but declined to pay the earlier settled monthly allowance of Tk 3000/-.
It seems that you doubted the bona fide of the succession proceeding and offered a counter-proposal etc. But your father-in- law was showing a tough attitude in his stand to confine you to the lump amount only. You want to realise the lump Tk. 4 lach and the monthly allowance as initially settled or in the alternative satisfy your counter-proposal about post dated cheque that you had latter given to your father-in-s law. I address your problem as follows:-
One should not bargain on something which he is not legally entitled to. The legal position is your in-laws do not owe any obligation to pay you any monthly allowance. Nor do they have any obligation to pay you a lump amount or post-dated cheque merely because your late husband was a member of their family. You are entitled to the property left out by your husband as per the law of inheritance. If you can show that your husband has left behind a property worth Tk.25-30 lach, as you have claimed, you will legally get its due share as his wife. Therefore, you need not depend on the mercy of anyone whoever he may be. The succession certificate would be necessary to satisfy the bank that you and your daughter are two of the legal heirs of the deceased account-holder. Showing disinterest in the certificate case will do you more harm than good. In addition to the share of the property of your husband you are entitled to the dower-money if not earlier paid off. So your footing in your matrimonial home is deep rooted. Given your legal status, you can go for a family arrangement. If you are satisfied it is all right. If you are not and feel compelled to assert your right consult a lawyer he will do the needful through procedure provided by law.

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