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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 195
June 25, 2005

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Law week

Mosharraf quits over Niko car controversy
State Minister for Energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain resigned over the Tk 1 crore Lexus scam after the prime minister asked him to stand down. His resignation letter was forwarded to the president on acceptance by the prime minister. Prime Minister Khaleda Zia asked Mosharraf to explain his position on the luxurious car he had received from Canadian company Niko Resources blamed for the Tengratila Gas Field Explosion early January, sources said.
Unsatisfied with his explanation, the prime minister asked him to resign.
Mosharraf, who was convicted of corruption in the previous BNP regime, resigned on health grounds, the sources added. Although an investigation committee clearly blamed Niko that sealed the unsolicited deal in Bangladesh using political lobby in the "alternative power house" of the government, it has not been punished or penalised so far.
The Tengratila blowout damaged at least 10 billion cubic feet (BCF) of gas worth $2.5 million, apart from severely damaging the geological zone. Instead of punishing Niko and its drilling contractor, who is backed by the "alternative power house", the minister punished the managing director of Bangladesh Petroleum Exploration Company (Bapex).
BAPEX is the partner of Niko in the country's one and only joint venture agreement in the gas exploration and development sector. The agreement was signed in defiance of the resistance and reservations by Petrobangla experts. A Petrobangla evaluation found Niko disqualified to explore or develop gas fields during the second round block bidding in 1997. The Daily Star, June 19.

2 JCD men held after mugging Tk 12 lakh
Police arrested two Dhaka College students and pro-BNP Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal (JCD) activists of the college unit and seized a car on charge of mugging Tk 12 lakh in Motijheel.
They are Golam Ohab Liton, science and technology affairs secretary of the Dhaka College JCD unit, and Azizul Haq, a member. Dhanmondi police said they seized Tk 10 lakh and 30,000 Saudi rial from room No. 212 of International Hostel at Dhaka College.
The arrestees admitted their fellow student and Assistant General Secretary Ruhul Amin had escaped with the stolen money and firearms, said Duty Officer of Motijheel Police Station ASI Abdur Rahim. Earlier, the three JCD men forced Abul Kashem, employee of Uma Jewellers at Baitul Mokarram Mosque Market, into the car in Purana Paltan, police and witnesses said. Kashem was going to a bank to deposit the sum. The muggers drove off towards Motijheel when an on duty traffic constable stopped the car at Dainik Bangla intersection, suspecting something wrong inside. Police rushed to the spot and held Liton and Azizul with a bullet and seized the car. However, Ruhul and Abul Hasan, driver of the car, fled. Prothom Alo, June 20.

Grabbers filling up yet another city wetland
Just beside the Martyred Intellectuals' Monument at Rayerbazar in the capital, local brick and sand traders are filling up a canal known as "Hikkar Khal." Filling up of this canal and wetland along the Dhaka Flood Protection Embankment may cause waterlogging in Mohammadpur, Basila, Rayerbazar and Dhanmondi areas in rainy season, locals say. While visiting the area last Thursday, this correspondent found a local guy named Mohammad Alamgir supervising the land filling work at Hikkar Khal. When asked, Alamgir claimed that he is the owner of the land.
"We possess this property for three generations and we have the documents. We are filling it up to set up a wholesale centre of brick and sand," he said. The canal is being filled up with garbage. The Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) staff are selling the garbage instead of dumping in the selected dumping site. Indiscriminate filling up of wetlands in and around the capital has become rampant due to lack of monitoring by the Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk).
The wetlands are being filled up one after another. Now the wetlands in the suburb area are sold at Tk 4/5 lakh per katha. Influential people are grabbing this land and filling them up, locals say. The Daily star, June 21.

Contempt Charge Judge, accused, PP, seek HC apology
A Dhaka court judge, a public prosecutor (PP), and the sacked managing director (MD) of Inqilab TV appeared in person before the High Court to face contempt charges, and tendered unconditional apologies for the offence.
The court fixed July 4 as the date for passing the judgement in the contempt proceedings. The HC division bench of Justices Khademul Islam Chowdhury and Emdadul Haq Azad issued a suo moto contempt rule on the three on May 16 after the sacked MD was granted bail in a sedition case in a lower court when the matter was still pending with the HC. Following the court order, the three first appeared in person before the court on May 24, and stood in the dock for about two hours.
Again Judge Mohammad Shamsul Alam Khan of the First Additional Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court, Dhaka, PP Abdullah Mahmud Hassan, and MD Salauddin Shoaib Chowdhury were in the dock for about two hours. When the three offered unconditional apologies in writing, the court exempted the judge and the PP from appearing in person.
The Metropolitan Sessions Judge's Court on April 30 granted Shoaib bail in the sedition case filed on January 24 last year. The bail was set at a bond of Tk 1 lakh with four guarantors. The PP did not oppose the bail petition despite being the prosecution lawyer. The Daily Star, June 21.

Corresponding with the Law Desk
Please send your mails, queries, and opinions to: Law Desk, The Daily Star 19 Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215; telephone 8124944,8124955,fax 8125155;email <dslawdesk@yahoo.co.uk,lawdesk@thedailystar.net


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