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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: 231
March 25, 2006

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Niko flouting rules with govt turning a blind eye
Canadian company Niko continues to flout unhindered all rules and regulations in each of its steps in keeping with its backdoor entry into the country's energy sector in 2003 using influence of an 'alternative centre of power' of the government. Energy ministry sources said other than the recent blackmailing tactics to force the government to fix gas price by stopping gas supply from the Feni field, Niko has been involved in illegal land grabbing, purchase and even 'donation', illegal installation of gas pipeline and spending of millions of dollars without due approval. Niko's undue influence made a number of government organisations commit gross irregularities. "Niko is corrupting the government mechanism," said a highly placed source. Though the government is aware of Niko's continued foul play, it has never taken any step to punish it, thanks to the influence of the 'alternative centre of power'. The energy ministry adviser made the only exception last week when he threatened Niko with legal action if it does not resume gas extraction and supply from the Feni field, stopped in late February. The threat led Niko to reluctantly resume Feni field's operation, supplying 29 mmcfd (million cubic feet per day) of gas. Meanwhile, there had been genuine disputes with other foreign oil companies working under different production sharing contracts (PSCs) but none of them has ever been accused of blatantly violating rules or corrupting government offices, an official pointed out. -The Daily Star, March 18.

Aug 17 Blasts Govt asked to produce Rahman, Bangla Bhai in Bogra court
Additional District and Sessions Judge's Court asked the government to produce captured JMB leaders Abdur Rahman and Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai before it on June 5 in connection with the August 17 bomb blasts case filed in the district. Militants exploded seven bombs in the district on August 17 as part of their serial bombings across the country. Other accused in the case are Waliullah, Gulam Kibria, Mamun-ur-Rashid and Abdur Razzak alias Hasan. Of them, Hasan is in custody while others are still at large. -UNB, Bogra, March 20.

Hearing on first sedition charge begins
The hearing of the first sedition case against eight Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) leaders and activists of Dhamrai area was held at a Dhaka court. After the hearing, Judge Mohammad Rafiqul Islam of the District and Sessions Judge's Court fixed April 5 for hearing on charge framing against the accused and transferred the case to the Additional District Judge and Bankruptcy Court for its trial. The eight accused JMB operatives are Mohammad Rafiqul Islam alias Sentu, 22, Mohammad Wahab, 26, Yaqub Ali, 21, Anwar Hossain, 23, Faruq Hossain alias Kosai Faruq, 25, Mohammad Wahiduzzaman alias Pintu, 20, Abdus Salam, 22, and Nurul Islam, 23. Of them, Sentu in now in custody while the others are still at large. Investigation Officer of the sedition case filed with Dhamrai Police Station Sub-Inspector Iqbal Hossain on December 27 last year submitted the charge sheet of the case against them to a first class magistrate's court in the city, showing 25 people as prosecution witnesses. -The Daily Star, March 20.

Participation of all parties needed for acceptable polls, Says Chammas
Participation of all political parties in the upcoming general elections is needed for acceptable polls, US Chargé d'Affaires in Dhaka Judith A Chammas said. "I hope all political parties will exercise their democratic responsibilities and rights in the general election," Chammas said. She was speaking at a meeting organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) at its conference room. Terming the general election a 'critical' one and forecasting that the polls will be observed widely and carefully, she also urged the people of Bangladesh as well as the participants to accept the election results. She said it is encouraging that the main opposition has put on its reform proposals in parliament and the prime minister has offered a committee to discuss the issue. "All these are good signs in a democracy." Replying to a query raised by a businessman on militancy, Chammas said the government has made a good step by arresting the militant leaders. However, the government should continue its investigation to find out the financers, organisers and those who patronise them, and bring them to justice, she added. -The Daily Star, March 20.

Rahman himself led raid to kill AL leader
Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) supremo Abdur Rahman has admitted that he himself led a failed operation to kill an Awami League leader in Mollahat in Bagerhat in August 2002. Rahman on March 19 told interrogators a 13-member JMB team, which also included Bangla Bhai, chased AL leader Tarapodo Poddar of Gaola village but could not have him due to locals' resistance. As the AL leader managed to escape, the attackers took shelter at the house of a JMB activist. Police had arrested six militants including Bangla Bhai, but Rahman evaded arrest, the JMB chief told the interrogators. The militant kingpin also said 20 JMB cadres in Bagerhat are looking for an opportunity to launch bomb attacks on some specific targets. Meantime, the sedition case filed against JMB's seven Majlish-e-Shura members on March 13 was transferred yesterday to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of police. -The Daily Star, March 21.

Bangla Bhai's victims want govt's apology
Over 50 family members of the victims of Bangla Bhai atrocities called on the government to apologise for the 'state-sponsored jungle rule' in the northwest of the country. The locals of Puthia, Durgapur, Bagmara of Rajshahi, Atrai, Raninagar of Naogaon and Naldanga of Natore at a public rally in Shaheb Bazar also demanded compensation for losses of lives and properties suffered at the hands of Jagrata Muslim Janata, Bangladesh (JMJB) operatives. Writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir was the chief guest at the meeting organised by Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee. Language Movement veteran Abul Hossain chaired the meeting addressed among others by Workers Party politburo member Fazle Hossain Badsha, city Awami League (AL) General Secretary AHM Khairuzzaman Liton, Professionals Alliance Council President Dr Sayed Shafiqul Alam and Nirmul Committee leader Quamruzzaman. Statements of some victims and witnesses were recorded on video on Miapara Library premises. Taking part in the meeting, the locals alleged a section of the police and district administration aided and abetted Bangla Bhai in various acts of violence against the villagers. They had overlooked repeated complaints by the victims and their families. -The Daily Star, March 21

Addl Attorney Gen Rezzaque wants to quit
Additional Attorney General Abdur Rezzaque Khan sought 'release' from his office following a newspaper report on his continuing in the job despite reaching retirement age. "I've sent a letter to the law secretary through the attorney general for releasing me from my office as the newspaper has raised the question regarding my age," Rezzaque Khan told The Daily Star, adding he is now 68 plus. Although the retirement age for a judge of the Supreme Court is 67, it is not clear whether it would be applicable too for an advocate getting appointment as a government attorney. Article 64 of the Constitution says the President shall appoint a person who is qualified to be appointed as a judge of the Supreme Court to be Attorney-General for Bangladesh and shall hold office during the pleasure of the President, and shall receive such remuneration as the President may determine. Nothing has been said in the Constitution about the retirement age or about the additional attorney generals. Rezzaque Khan told this correspondent that he has brought attention of the law ministry to the matter and would continue in his duty until government response. -The Daily Star, March 21


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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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