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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: 218
December 10 , 2005

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HC unlists graft case against Ershad
A High Court bench of Justice Abdul Awal unlisted a corruption case filed against former military ruler HM Ershad from hearing of the cause list of the bench concerned.
The now-defunct Bureau of Anti Corruption (BAC) filed the corruption case with Ramna Police Station in July, 1991, against Ershad over a controversial purchase of 375 Japanese boats while he was in state power. The then divisional judge's court, Dhaka, on July 6, 1995, convicted Ershad with three years' rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Tk 10,000 and in default four months' jail. Ershad filed an appeal in the High Court against the judgement.-- BD News, December 06

Fresh voter roll
The Election Commission (EC) secretariat yesterday declared a timetable for preparing a fresh voter roll with January 1 being the date for starting enumeration and June 1 for publication of the final list. Two of the three election commissioners, however, alleged that the timetable was fixed unlawfully. "We don't know anything about it. The election commission did not approve any such schedule for the voter list. We did not even see any file regarding this," Election Commissioner AK Mohammad Ali told The Daily Star. "Preparing a voter list is one the constitutional duties of the election commission. So, every decision in this regard must be taken by the commission. The CEC (chief election commissioner) cannot take such a crucial decision on consulting only the secretary [of the EC secretariat]," he argued.
From the outset Election Commissioners M Munsef Ali and AK Mohammad Ali have been raising objection to going for a fresh voter list. --The Daily Star, December 07.

Tele-tapping plan evokes fear of harassment
The government move to tap telephones for tracing militants might lead to harassment of people and reaping political gains, fear legal experts, rights activists and business leaders.
Alarmed at Monday's cabinet decision to amend telecoms act for allowing law enforcement members eavesdropping on phones, they said that the government should have gone for other measures to combat militant activities. Some of them also alleged intelligence agencies are persuading the government to go for such a step to cover up their failures.
Cellphone operators meanwhile anticipate a negative impact on the telecom sector if the proposed amendment compels people to seek permission for subscription from a government agency. "It will obviously curtail people's rights to privacy and there is a possibility of its misuse," leading jurist Dr M Zahir told The Daily Star. Some countries have done this to fight terrorism. But, if the law grants 'blank power', it will be an intervention into privacy and it may be used by unscrupulous people for their evil aims, he said. "Nobody, not even the most sincere investigation officer should be given this right officially," Zahir said.
Eminent rights activist and legal expert Shahdeen Malik finds no necessity of such an amendment. "If the government thinks it necessary for the sake of security or any investigation, it may seek court permission to tap phones. The court, if finds it reasonable, may allow the government to do so. There is no necessity of a sweeping law," he noted.
"The constitution in its Article 43 guarantees the right to privacy of correspondence and other means of communication. This right is subject to restriction on account of security of the state, public order, public morality or public health. The issue now is how far privacy of communication and correspondence can be or should be restricted on the plea of these four necessities,". -- The Daily Star, December 07.

Rajuk skirts HC order
Violating a High Court order, Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha (Rajuk) continues approving plans for eight-storey buildings along the avenues in Gulshan, Banani and Baridhara, claiming it has not received the order yet. The controversy began when Shirin Shila, a resident of Gulshan, filed a writ petition against a government decision. The Ministry of Housing and Public Works in October 2004 issued a notification to allow eight-storey buildings along the thoroughfares between Shooting Club and Circle-2 of Gulshan and Kemal Ataturk Avenue and Baridhara. The complainant in the petition stressed serious constraints on civic amenities and environment if construction of high-rise buildings is allowed.
On July 10, 2005 the HC bench of Justice Md Abdul Matin and Justice Mamnoon Rahman served a show-cause notice to Rajuk and the ministry, imposing a stay on approval of plans for such buildings. --The Daily Star, December 08.

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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