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November 16, 2003 

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Corruption alleged against 20 ministries

Different parliamentary standing committees have raised allegations of irregularities and corruption in the activities of at least 20 out of the 39 ministries. Thirty-nine parliamentary bodies on as many ministries are still reviewing their activities. Most of them held two or three meetings and found mismanagement and irregularities, especially in different projects. Four of the ministries blamed for such misdeeds are under the prime minister -- Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) affairs, energy, power and mineral resources, establishment, primary and mass education ministries. Other ministries accused of mismanagement and corruption are home, commerce, housing and public works, food, health, communication, religious affairs, cultural affairs, land, water resources, fisheries and livestock, information, environment and forestry, science, information and communication technology, liberation war affairs, and expatriates welfare and overseas employment. -Daily Star, 8 November.

IGP faces contempt charge

The High Court has issued a suo moto rule on the IGP asking him to explain why he would not face contempt charges for his use of language in a clarification sent to the registrar of the Supreme Court on queries in regard to a contempt case against five police sergeants in August. The Court also directed the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Shahudul Haque to appear in court in person to explain the matter. The HC Division Bench of Justice MA Aziz and Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed issued the rule on and the directive to the IGP. The Court observed that the IGP sent a clarification containing some contemptuous statements degrading the status of a judge of the High Court. It may be mentioned that on August 20, an HC Division Bench of Justice Md Tafazzul Islam and Justice AFM Abdur Rahman issued a notice of query on the IGP to explain whether they teach the warrant of precedence and conduct of behaviour to their police personnel.

The contempt was drawn by the then justice of the HC division, AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury as some police personnel did not salute him on June 23 near Farmgate. The IGP in his clarification mentioned that a traffic policeman on duty is not obliged to salute anybody but a discretion is left to him to pay compliment to anybody without risking traffic accident. The duty of a driver is to obey the direction of the traffic policeman and he has no right to conduct a research as to whether the direction given by the traffic policeman is right or wrong. The IGP sought for drawing charges against Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury under relevant sections of the penal code, if not barred by the law, for the incident. Law Desk.

Court orders seizure of magistrate's power

A Dhaka court has asked the government to seize the power of a metropolitan magistrate for passing unlawful orders in a criminal case. Metropolitan Sessions Judge Md Matiur Rahman issued the order on Thursday 6 November against Magistrate Shafiq Anwar for passing irregular, illegal and arbitrary orders on a bail petition to an accused in a criminal case. The order came upon a criminal revision by the accused on 3rd November. The judge in his order said one Abed Hossain Mukul filed a criminal case with the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dhaka on August 26 against one Mohammad Ali alias Jinnah on charge of non-payment of Tk 18 lakh. The court took the case into cognisance and issued a warrant of arrest against the accused. The court also asked the accused to appear before it on December 6. Meanwhile, the case was transferred to Magistrate Shafiq Anwar for trial, though the time fixed for appearance of the accused -- December 6 -- did not expire. Moreover, the magistrate issued several orders including declaration of the accused as an absconder, attachment of his property and ban on his leaving the country. Such orders are irregular, illegal and arbitrary since the date of his appearance was on 4 December. The judge observed that the magistrate was abusing the laws and the motives and intentions of the court were illegal. He also found the sending of the accused to custody illegal. The judge also observed that Magistrate Shafiq Anwar's knowledge of law is very poor and so his magisterial power needs to be seized at once. Law desk.

OC closed over release of top smuggler

Officer-in-charge (OC) of Khulna Police Station Shafiul Azam Swapan has been closed to Boyra Police Lines on 8 November following the submission of a probe report by Additional Police Commissioner Sajjad Ali. Sajjad submitted the report to the Khulna Metropolitan Police commissioner, suggesting immediate withdrawal of the OC. The OC has also been accused of delinquency. Shafiul arrested listed smuggler Shamsul Alam Shamsu on Sunday 7 November and released him next morning. Mustafizur Rahman, the police commissioner, formed a committee at the instruction of Inspector General of Police Shahudul Huq to probe the allegation that Shafiul forced Shamsu to pay Tk 3 lakh for his release. The probe body could not prove the exchange of money, but it found that Shafiul arrested and released Shamsu at his will. Janakantha, 9 November.

Indian editor, journalists face jail over articles

State Assembly of Tamil Nadu of India has sentenced five journalists of a top daily 'The Hindu' to 15 days in jail and sent police to the newspaper office over articles critical of the government. The assembly ordered the jail terms for publishing articles and an editorial that said the provincial government showed "rising intolerance." The state assembly ordered jail for The Hindu's publisher, editor, executive editor and two other journalists for "breach of privilege" over articles and an editorial about Chief Minister Jayalalitha Jayaram's government. The newspaper had written that the government made "crude use of state power" by arresting a leading political opponent and allegedly harassing independent media. -Daily Star, 9 November.

Internet telephony legalised

The government has finally legalised internet telephony, technically termed the voice over internet protocol (VoIP). The move will reduce international call charges substantially and is expected to boom IT-enabled services. It will also allow the mobile-to-mobile phone users to receive overseas calls. A cabinet meeting presided over by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia took the decision on Monday 10 December. The meeting, however, set some conditions like paying licence fees and security deposit for obtaining licence for the internet-based technology. The operators will also have to generate and terminate calls through the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) international gateway. The BTRC will award licences and oversee the operation of the VoIP operators. Ittefaq, 11 November.

Charges pressed against 7 ex-cops for mugging

Charges were pressed against seven former policemen of Khilgaon Police Station and an ansar after it was proved that they mugged two businessmen at Meradia, Goran on 31 October. Inspector Salahuddin of Khilgaon Police Station, the investigation officer (IO) of the case, submitted the charge sheet to the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dhaka on Monday 10 November, 10 days after the incident. Of the seven policemen who stand accused of mugging, Sub-Inspector (SI) Shahjahan Sabuj and constables Habibur Rahman, Abul Khair Mollah and Mohammad Faruq are evading arrest. The four other accused are now in Dhaka Central Jail. The IO sought court order to confiscate the property of the fugitive policemen and a warrant of arrest against them. The IO however did not press charge against police informant Delwar, as his name and address could not be found. He made 15 people prosecution witnesses. Prothom Alo., 11 November.

1,000 acres of land grabbed by real estate firms

Real estate builders have illegally grabbed about 1,000 acres of state land in Dhaka and its environs. This was revealed by a parliamentary body. The body also asked the government to act immediately. It said a big chunk of the land fell to the hands of Eastern Housing, Basundhara, Madhumati, Jamuna, Amin Mohammad Foundation and Magura Housing Company. Discussing a report submitted to it, the parliamentary standing committee on the land ministry also asked the government to publish gazettes detailing vested property, occupied by encroachers because of neglect of authorities.

It asked the ministry to file cases under the Speedy Trial Act against the real state developers, who used fake documents to grab the land. The members of the committee observed that the law should be amended, if need be, to recover the lands that have fallen to grabbers and use them in public interest. - Daily Star, 7 November.

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