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Electricity Act in the making
government is set to scrap the Electricity Act 1910, which was amended
twice earlier, in 1987 and 1994, and replace it with a new law in order
to minimise electricity pilferage. The new law would provide severe penal
clauses for any sort of electricity theft and bill-default that is absent
in the existing Act. This was said by State Minister for Power Iqbal Hassan
Mahmood. He told that a committee led by a joint secretary would be formed
to prepare a draft of the law within 30 days. After finalisation the draft
bill would be sent different bodies, including the chambers of commerce
and industries, bar associations, university teachers associations and
the experts in the field to elicit their considered opinions.The logical
responses would be accommodated in the draft and then would be sent to
the advisory council of the ministry. After scrutiny, the advisory council
would send it to the cabinet for final approval. Apart from punitive measures,
the law would include deterrent measures so that the same crimes were
not repeated. -New Age, 7 December.
to die for killing Nurul Islam
The Speedy Trial Tribunal in Chittagong has sentenced five people
to death, nine to life imprisonment and two to five years in jail for
their roles in the brutal killing of Laxmipur BNP leader advocate Nurul
Islam in captivity. The tribunal brought to a close the trial of 31 defendants
and acquitted 15 of them in its verdict that stoked grievances among the
relatives of Nurul, slaughtered and sliced into pieces on the night of
September 18, 2000. Among the acquitted are the then general secretary
of Awami League's Laxmipur district unit, Abu Taher, his wife Nazma Taher
and Abdul Alim, who were accused of masterminding the killing. According
to confessional statement of Mehedi Hasan and Syed Nurul Azim alias Babor,
Nurul Islam was abducted Nurul taken to the house of Taher blindfolded.
Taher's wife assaulted the BNP leader and instructed their sons AHM Biplob
and Salauddin alias Tipu to kill him after she received a phone call from
her husband. He was instantly roped, dragged into a bathroom and nailed
down before he was hacked to death. The body -- cut into pieces and stuffed
into a sack -- was dumped into the Meghna river. The convicts with death
penalty are Biplob, Abdul Jabber nicknamed Lavu, Alamgir Hossain alias
Jiku, Tanvir Haider Chowdhury alias Rinku and Ziaur Rahman alias Shipon.
The charge sheet of the case was submitted against the 31 people on July
30, 2002 and charge was framed on November 5, 2002. The case was sent
to the Speedy Trial Tribunal of Chittagong on September 3, 2003 that heard
39 of the 59 witnesses. -Daily Star, 10 December.
court strikes down part of anti-terror law
A federal appeals court in USA has struck down part of a 1996
federal anti-terrorism law, saying the government's definition of what
constituted "material support" to foreign terror groups was
too vague. In their decision, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld
an earlier preliminary ruling that prohibited the provision of "personnel"
and "training" to groups designated by the United States as
"terrorist organisations." The court also ruled that before
applying the law the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that
a donor to a group branded as a "foreign terrorist organisation"
knew of its unlawful activities. "The prohibition on providing "training"
and "personnel" is impermissibly overbroad and thus void for
vagueness under the First and Fifth Amendments," the court ruled.
- Daily Star, 5 December.
case against Hasina stayed
The High Court has stayed proceedings of the frigate scam case
pending with the lower court against former prime minister and Awami League
president Sheikh Hasina. A division bench of Justice M Hassan Ameen and
Justice ATM Fazle Kabir also issued a rule upon the government to show
cause why the case should not be quashed. In August 2002, the Bureau of
Anti-corruption (Bac) filed the case against the former prime minister
and five others, including former navy chief Rear Admiral Nurul Islam
and business tycoon and incumbent president of Federation of Bangladesh
Chambers of Commerce and Industries (FBCCI) Abdul Awal Mintoo. They were
accused of shady deal in purchasing a frigate from South Korea in 1996.
-Bhorer Kagoj, 7 December.
elections in May 2003
The Election Commission (EC) has decided to hold the next polls
in 133 municipalities in the first week of May 2003. The tenures of 144
of 260 municipalities will expire between March 15 to August 24. According
to election law, polls in the corporations will have to be held between
March 15 to September 11. Of the 144 municipalities, tenures of 10 expire
after May where elections will be held later. The government has allocated
Tk 10 crore to conduct the polls. Work on the updation of the voters'
list is going on and would be finished by January 30. -Prothom Alo,
citizens languishing in prison
Twelve Indian nationals who have been confined to Rajshahi Central
Jail for more than two years although they served out their 15-day jail
term in 2001. On June 26, 2001, police held 13 Indians for illegally entering
Bangladesh. A magistrate's court in Rajshahi sentenced each to 15-day
imprisonment under the Border Regulation Act, 1952, on September 9 and
October 11, 2001. The court also ordered to push back the Indians after
their jail term expires. The detainees are Matiar Rahman, Jan Mohammad
Sheikh, Ramzan Sheik, Jahirul Islam, Akbar Ali, Murtoza, Abdul Mazid,
Emraj Ali, Sajjad Hossain, Raihan, Muluk Chand and Montu. Another detainee,
Entazul alias Injil, died in jail in 2002. -Janakantha, 7 December.
against OC for eviction threat
A case has been filed against the officer-in-charge and seven
other policemen of Hatibandha thana of Lalmonirhat district for threatening
a person with eviction from his homestead. Azizul Haq of Bichhondai village
filed the case with a First Class Magistrate court. In the case he said
13 people of the village looted and demolished his house on November 13,
ploughed the homestead and threatened him to leave it. On the following
morning, Azizul went to Hatibandha thana to file a case against them.
But OC Abdus Sobhan did not record the case and instead "threatened"
him. In the complaint filed with the court, Azizul said the OC, ASI Abdul
Mannan and six policemen joined hands with the 13 and "threaded"
him and his family to left the homestead immediately. The court asked
the district police on November 30 to investigate the matter. -Law
formed to collect information
The parliamentary standing committee on the land ministry has set up a
cell to collect information about encroachment, corruption, irregularities
and harassment concerning any khas, abandoned and vested land and properties.
The committee asked people to come forward with all sorts of information
on encroachment, occupation and other irregularities. The Committee will
reward persons providing information if it is right so that the committee
can take proper step to recover occupied land. Encroachers revealing information
about land under their possession will also be rewarded. The committee
will meet next on December 28. The deputy commissioners will submit their
reports at the meeting on occupied khas land at Dhaka, Keraniganj, Savar,
Tongi, Rupganj and Sonargaon. -Daily Star, 10 December.
Sikdar's death sentence confirmed
The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court upheld the death
sentence of Ershad Sikdar of Khulna who came to limelight through his
gruesome murders, many in public, stands accused in 21 more murder cases.
The Appellate Division upheld the lower court's judgement in the murder
of a Jubo League leader in Khulna, Khalid Hossain. The High Court confirmed
the lower court's verdict on January 28 this year. Ershad also has six
death penalties in as many cases. On May 15, 1999, Ershad Sikdar and his
accomplices killed Khalid at the ice factory in Khulna. Ershad can still
file a review of the Appellate Division's verdict, said his lawyers. In
case the review petition is rejected, he can file a mercy petition with
the president. In the Khalid murder case, two of Ershad's accomplices
-- Jamai Faruk and Liakat Laskar -- were given seven years in prison.
The Appellate Division also upheld the penalty against them. -Law