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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: 263
November 25, 2006

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Law Week

Tarique files defamation suits against Hasina, Jalil, Quader
BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman filed three separate defamation suits against Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina, General Secretary Abdul Jalil and Joint General Secretary Obaidul Quader, accusing them of conducting 'malicious campaign' against him. After hearing the petitioner, Metropolitan Magistrate AJM Abdullah Hel Baqui, ordered judicial inquiry into all the three cases without taking the matter into direct cognisance. Enraged by the order, more than 200 BNP-backed lawyers tried to create pressure on the magistrate to issue summons upon the AL president and her two close aides, but the magistrate stuck to his order despite the chaotic situation created by them that lasted for nearly half an hour. In the complaint against Sheikh Hasina, Tarique mentioned that she (Hasina) told a public meeting at Paltan Maidan on November 3, "The son of 4-party alliance chief drives Tk 2 crore car, wears suit worth lakh taka and squanders thousands of crore taka in gambling abroad," and "A syndicate of 2 lakh and 86 thousand crore taka is being run at Hawa Bhaban." In the charge against Obaidul Quader, the complainant said he (Quader) at a press briefing on November 4 said " The New York Stock Exchange has awarded Tarique Rahman with a medal. How much taka is needed to get it, what is the source of this money, people want to know." Quader also said "people want to know what Tarique Rahman carried in 435 suitcases and bags on his trip to Saudi Arabia for performing the Umrah? Why and how the Malaysian government has confiscated the money of Tarique?" The petitioner said that all these widely published and telecast statements of the AL leaders, are false and baseless aiming to undermine his political image. -- The Daily Star, November 20.

EC secretariat made off-limits to journalists
In a sudden move, the Election Commission (EC) banned journalists from entering its secretariat that is preparing to conduct the next parliamentary elections. A large number of journalists, who regularly visit the EC Secretariat to collect information about the preparatory work for the next election, were barred from entering the main building of the secretariat. Neither the EC nor any senior EC Secretariat official, however, clarified the reasons for the ban. Security personnel at the EC Secretariat told reporters that the authorities directed them not to allow any journalist to enter the secretariat. The ban on the media--unprecedented in the history of the EC--was imposed at a time when the next parliamentary election is nearing and all eyes are set on the activities of the EC and its secretariat. Last week, the EC banned journalists from entering the EC Secretariat for a few hours. Last year, the chief election commissioner (CEC) also imposed a restriction on the then two election commissioners' talking to the media as the two had been strongly opposing CEC MA Aziz's unilateral move for preparing a fresh voter list. The EC and its secretariat have been criticising the media for the last few months as different newspapers and television channels ran reports on various irregularities in the process of preparing the voter list. Latest, they reported alleged irregularities in the printing process of the updated voter list. Aziz also accused the media on several occasions of "tarnishing the image of the EC".-- The daily Star, November 20.

Writ petition filed against Iajuddin
A writ petition was filed in the High Court (HC) to issue a rule to the President and Chief Adviser (CA) of the caretaker government Iajuddin Ahmed to show cause under what authority he is holding the office of the CA. Adnan Anwar, a businessman and nephew of late president Ziaur Rahman, filed the writ stating that President Iajuddin did not comply with all the provisions of the constitution before assuming the office of the CA. The respondents are the chief adviser, the president, and secretaries of Law and Establishment ministries. "President Iajuddin without exhausting the mandatory provisions of the article 58 C (3) (4) and (5) of the constitution has assumed the functions of Chief Adviser violating the oath of office which he took to protect and defend," the petition reads. "And therefore he is required to show under what authority he is holding the office without appointing or firm offers to appoint other person/persons mentioned in the said article and as such his appointment is without lawful authority and is of no legal effect." The petitioner also asked the HC bench to verify "… whether the Chief Adviser is legally holding the office as it is apparent that his appointment as the Chief Adviser has violated not only the constitutional provisions but also his neutrality having been elected by a political party whose shadow looms large on his horizon." Explaining the political turmoil centring the appointment of CA and the constitutional provisions on appointing CA, the petitioner said the President did not follow all the provisions before assuming the office. -- Prothom Alo, November 21.

Iajuddin takes another tough job as head of law, order body
The caretaker government (CG) formed an advisory committee to improve law and order situation by initiating necessary measures particularly for recovering illegal arms ahead of the parliamentary election. Surprisingly enough, President and Chief Adviser (CA) to the Caretaker Government Prof Iajuddin Ahmed himself has taken the job of chief of the advisory committee, which would decide on the next course of action to improve the law and order situation. The two other members of the committee are Adviser Lt Gen (retd) Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury and Adviser M Azizul Haque. Iajuddin, now in charge of at least 10 ministries and divisions including the home and establishment ministries, is also the head of the advisory committee on administrative affairs. During the last CG in 2001, the then CA was in charge of the home ministry while an adviser was made the head of the committee on law and order. The committee was formed the day the advisers were sworn in. During the last CG, an adviser was made head of the administrative affairs committee as well. The current council of advisers to the CG formed the advisory committee on law and order affairs 20 days after the advisers were sworn on October 31. Replying to a query whether army personnel would be deployed in the drive to recover illegal arms, the information adviser said it would depend on the circumstances. -- The Daily Star, November 21

CG won't cancel any more contractual appointments
The caretaker government will not cancel further contractual appointments of government officials except a few chief engineers working in different sectors. "The possibility of cancelling more contracts is very thin as most of the remaining contractually appointed officials are technicians and have no influence on holding the general election," Establishment Secretary AFM Solaiman Chowdury told reporters at his office. Different political parties, especially the Awami League, have long been demanding cancellation of more than 200 contractual appointments. The caretaker government has so far cancelled the contracts of 46 officials. The establishment ministry, however, reinstated eight officials soon after cancelling their contracts on their plea that the cancellation process was not followed "rightly". According to the rule, the ministry has to issue a notification three months before cancelling the contract of any officer at the Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission or the Securities and Exchange Commission, Solaiman said. The establishment ministry is also considering promotion of officers at various levels who are eligible but were deprived of due promotion during the tenure of the immediate past BNP-led four-party government. -- The Daily Star, November 22.

Accountable leadership vital for ensuring rights
Accountability and transparency of the political leadership of Bangladesh should be ensured for establishing human rights in the country, British Minister of State for Trade and Investment Ian McCartney said. The international community may write to the political parties asking if their electoral promises, particularly on the human rights issues and the international treaties signed by the country, are implemented or not, he said. The British minister, whose portfolio also includes human rights in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, was speaking at a Human Rights Focus Group Discussion on 'Violence, vulnerable groups and the future of human rights in Bangladesh.' British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury moderated the discussion that took place at his residence. The UK minister's visit to Bangladesh, part of a South Asian tour including India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, is aimed at discussing the prospects of and obstacles to economic, democratic and human development of the country. McCartney also met the President and Chief of the Caretaker Government Iajuddin Ahmed yesterday and was scheduled to meet the business community of the country. -- The Daily Star, November 23.

Aziz agrees to go on 90-day leave but doesn't say when
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) MA Aziz informed the president verbally that he will take a three-month leave of absence in response to the presidential initiative to resolve the political deadlock centring the popular demand for reconstitution of the Election Commission (EC). Even President/ Chief Adviser Iajuddin Ahmed in his midnight address to the nation did not mention from when Aziz will go on leave. The CEC chief has also set a condition that he will stay in the country under full security protection from the government, Iajuddin revealed in his address. Ending a three-day long suspense, an emergency meeting of the council of advisers to the caretaker government (CG) last night confirmed the CEC's verbal communication and it also decided that the president will appoint two more election commissioners. But the president did not inform the council when the appointments will be made. He however told the advisers that they will be informed in due time, according to sources. If things go the way they seem to be going, the next general election will be held for the first time under an EC headed by an acting CEC and with the highest number of election commissioners in the history of the commission. -- The Daily Star, November 23.

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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