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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: 247
July 22, 2006

This week's issue:
Crime Punishment
Law Interview
Financial Market Regulation
Star Law Analysis
Law News
Human Rights Advocacy
Law Week

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Law Week

Legal flaws, hidden costs in PDB's draft deal
The draft contract for 150 megawatt Chandpur Power Project that Power Development Board (PDB) is set to sign next week with Chinese company Harbin contains hundreds of legal loopholes and hidden costs of $15.56 million, sources said. As in the case of Tongi power plant built by Harbin, the contract documents this time dropped 4,448 spare parts of 476 categories from Harbin's original offer. The documents resemble those of Tk 360 crore 80 MW Tongi power plant, which tripped over 75 times in one year setting a record of bad performance. "In other words, PDB is all set to sign and procure a junk like Tongi power plant," said one source. Experts who have scrutinised the draft contract said the documents hid a cost of $15.56 million in Harbin's bid. This means the company's original bid of $41 million will actually impose a cost of over $56 million on the PDB during the implementation period. The PDB had selected Harbin's bid as the lowest through an arbitrary process, triggering another Chinese bidder --CMEC -- to lodge formal complaints with the Implementation, Monitoring, Evaluation Department (IMED) of the government. The IMED dismissed Harbin's bid as it found gross violation of rules in it and asked the PDB to negotiate with the CMEC. --The Daily Star, July 16.

31,000 criminal cases pile up a year
Slow-paced investigations, lengthy disposals of cases and undersized judiciary result in a backlog of 31,000 criminal cases on average every year. While the number of cases awaiting disposal at the courts was 1,17,295 in 2000, it shot up to 2,66,172 at the end of 2004, according to the statistics prepared by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). Concerned over the growing backlog, the home and law ministries have decided to sit down and work out a mechanism to address the problem immediately. "We need to work towards a solution to this problem as the number of backlogged cases is growing every year," State Minister for Home Affairs Lutfozzaman Babar said. In 2004, 1,18,921 cases were filed across the country while charge sheets in 85,685 cases were submitted. But the courts in that year disposed of only 44,157 cases. About 31,000 cases build up every year, the minister said, coming out of a meeting of the home ministry's monitoring cell on sensational cases. "The number of charge sheets submitted does not agree with the number of cases filed every year and the cases are not disposed of at the rate charge sheets are submitted," Babar said. --The Daily Star, July 17.

Draft law proposes to make national ID card mandatory
The home ministry is seeking approval of the cabinet purchase committee for a Tk 1,561 crore programme on machine-readable passport (MRP), visa and national identity card (NID) along with a draft law on registration and NID. Sources said the draft law, first of its kind, seeks to make NID mandatory for every citizen when they apply for a passport, open a bank account, obtain Tax Identification Number (TIN) or while dealing with similar issues. However, this draft was hurriedly made as a supporting draft legal document for the massive MRP and NID programme. "The draft law borrows the concept of social security card used in the western countries. But this law was not based on any independent social and demographic survey as was required. It has been framed so that the purchase committee gets the idea about the legal premise on which the MRP-NID programme is based on," said a competent source. The MRP-NID programme demands a legal framework making national ID cards mandatory for every citizen. --The Daily Star, July 17.

Allegation of stealing seized money against Rab men
Controversy emerged after Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) arrested two youths carrying more than Tk 18 lakh tied to their bodies at Savar. The arrestees alleged the Rab men embezzled Tk 2.5 lakh before handing them over to police. Police believe the youths, arrested from a Dhaka-bound bus at Baipail intersection of Ashulia, might be involved with hundi business, said our Jahangirnagar University correspondent. Meanwhile, the youths claimed the money they were carrying belonged to a Dinajpur district Jatiyatabadi Jubo Dal leader Anisur Rahman and Union Parishad Chairman Badsha who have been absconding after the Dinajpur BNP committee was dissolved on June 12. Detectives had caught two of his associates with more Tk 20 lakh this June but they were released later, said our Dinajpur correspondent. The arrestees are Belal, son of Momtaj Uddin of Kamalpur in Dinajpur, and Emran Hossain, son of Atabul Hossain of Khanpur in Dinajpur. --Prothom Alo, July 17.

Citizens' body wants CEC, commissioners to quit now
The Citizens' Committee 2006, a platform of civil society members, said immediate resignation of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and other commissioners can help remove uncertainty over the next general election. So, they should stand down in the interest of the nation, it observed. "Election Commission (EC) is a constitutional body and the CEC should be a person respected by all. But activities of the present commission have rather been suspicious. So, it'd be better for them to go and help remove uncertainty and restore public confidence in the commission," M Mujibul Huq, former cabinet secretary and a member of the committee, told a press briefing at the Jatiya Press Club. It has to be ensured that the EC can work independently, transparently, reliably and with neutrality, the committee said adding that the EC should have a secretariat of its own, which would be independent of the Prime Minister's Office. Speaking at the briefing, ASM Shahjahan, former adviser to the caretaker government, said there had been widespread public concern over some moves by the EC, which in some cases had to make a U-turn. "There exists a complete lack of confidence in the Election Commission and it needs to be changed," he noted. --Prothom Alo, July 18.

Kibria Killing
SC stays case proceedings
The Supreme Court (SC) stayed for three months all proceedings of former minister Shah AMS Kibria killing case now pending in the Sylhet Divisional Speedy Trial Tribunal. Full bench of the Appellate Division of the SC headed by the chief justice passed the order and also granted government's leave-to-appeal petition against the High Court's May 14 order following a petition of complainant of the case seeking further investigation. Earlier on May 4, the tribunal judge adjourned the trial for 10 days as the complainant prayed for four weeks' time to appeal after his prayer for further investigation was rejected. Complainant of the case, Habiganj Awami League (AL) leader Abdul Majid khan, then filed a petition in the HC challenging the Sylhet Divisional Speedy Trial Tribunal's rejection of his prayer for further investigation into the case. The HC bench on May 14 ordered the government to explain within two weeks as to why the ruling of the Speedy Trial Tribunal should not be declared illegal and without lawful authority. The bench also stayed all proceedings of the case until disposal of the rule. --The Daily Star, July 18.

Shazneen Case
The Supreme Court (SC) stayed the High Court's (HC) verdict on sensational Shazneen murder case for three months. Chamber Judge of the Appellate Division Amirul Kabir Chowdhury passed the order after hearing a leave to appeal petition filed by Badal, Minu and Parvin, three of the convicts awarded death sentence.
Earlier on Monday, the same judge stayed the verdict on hearing a leave to appeal petition filed by Syed Sajjad Mainuddin Hasan alias Azad, another convict sentenced to death.The HC death reference bench comprising Justice Ali Asgar Khan and Justice Emdadul Haque in its judgment on July 10 upheld the death penalty of five convicts, including Hasan, and acquitted one in the sensational case.
The five convicts are Shahidul Islam alias Shahid, a domestic help at the Gulshan residence of Shazneen's family, Hasan, a contractor for renovation of their house, Badal, his assistant, and two maids, Estema Khatun Minu and Parvin.
The HC acquitted mason Shaniram Mandal of the charge. Fifteen-year-old Shazneen, the youngest daughter of leading businessman Latifur Rahman, was raped and killed at their Gulshan residence sometime between 8:00pm and 10:15pm on April 23, 1998. --The Daily Star..

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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