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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: 29
July 21, 2007

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Law week

Hasina, Khaleda given 7 days for wealth report
The Anti-corruption Commission (ACC) served notices on former prime ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina to submit their wealth statements as part of its initiative to find out whether there is any ground for filing graft cases against the two. In the notices, the government anti-graft watchdog asked the chiefs of BNP and Awami League (AL) to submit statements of their movable and immovable properties to the commission within seven working days from the date of the notification. AL President Sheikh Hasina, who had been arrested and sent to a sub-jail, was served with the notice through the jail authorities while the notice to Khaleda was sent to her Mainul Road residence in Dhaka Cantonment. Talking to reporters on the ACC premises, its Secretary Mokhles Ur Rahman said the decision was taken yesterday morning. "This is a routine work of the commission," the secretary added. On receiving the two most prominent leaders' wealth statements, the ACC will crosscheck the statements with the information gathered by itself with assistance from intelligence agencies. "The ACC will file cases against them, if they are found to be suppressing information about their wealth in the statements," a source in the ACC said. Sources in intelligence agencies said they already have information about the wealth of the two leaders. -The Daily Star, July 18.

Faizee's letter of resignation accepted
The Bangabhaban has accepted controversial High Court (HC) Judge Faisal Mahmud Faizee's letter of resignation to the president. Registrar of the Supreme Court (SC) Iktedar Ahmed confirmed that they have received a notification from the president's office to that effect. He also said that the resignation would be considered to have taken effect from July 12, the day Faizee communicated to the chief justice his decision to step down. Earlier on July 15, the SC registrar sent the resignation letter to President Prof Iajuddin Ahmed following a Supreme Judicial Council meeting. The council sent its first reference to the president about tampering of certificate by Faizee on March 19. Iajuddin sent it back with recommendation for a Supreme Judicial Council probe on March 21. However, the council could not begin the inquiry as Faizee filed a writ petition with the HC on March 19 against the Chittagong University (CU) syndicate's decision to cancel his LLB certificate. In his resignation letter, Faizee said that "vested political quarters" have been out to tarnish his image and that of the SC judges. Under the circumstances, he felt an urge to quit to "protect the image of the apex court". He went on leave on March 5, two days after the CU syndicate cancelled his certificate. Soon afterwards, the chief justice decided not to place him on any bench. Faizee was supposed to appear before the council for having judgment in 180 cases pending during his tenure as an HC judge. -Prothom Alo, July 18.

Woman SC lawyer found slaughtered
A woman lawyer of the Supreme Court was killed inside her Elephant Road apartment in the capital. The victim, Advocate Sayma Khanum, 44, was a former cultural affairs secretary of Dhaka Bar Association. She was also one of the prosecution lawyers of the sensational Shazneen case. Hearing the news that a youth believed to be acquainted with Sayma slit her throat, relatives rushed to the 15th floor house at Prince Tower. She was pronounced dead on arrival at Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Police could not find any clue to the murder. They suspect Sayma might have been killed as a sequel to her cases or over personal enmity. Newmarket police detained her domestic helps -- Mina, 22, and Aleya, 12 -- who were present during the gruesome murder. The victim's eight-year-old daughter Ayman Jara Tofa, a class III student of Scholar School and College in Dhanmondi, was asleep during the killing. Her husband, a retired PWD engineer, and son Ali Sayem Rumman, a doctor of Central Hospital, were outside the house. Mina told the police she opened the door hearing doorbell and saw a tall youth aged around 26 who looked for Sayma. Mina and Aleya told the police they realised Sayma was killed but did not raise an alarm fearing the same consequence. They informed the matter to relatives and neighbours when the killer disappeared. -The Daily Star,July 18.

None allowed to visit Hasina
The jail authorities did not allow Sheikh Hasina's family members and lawyers to meet her at the special jail to discuss the Anti-Corruption Commission's notice for submitting her wealth statement. The Awami League (AL) sent a letter to the home ministry seeking permission for eight lawyers to meet the detained party chief to provide her with necessary legal aide but it did not get any responses. Police sources said that the charge sheet of the extortion case in which Hasina has been shown arrested will be given within a couple of days. According to the emergency rules the whole proceedings will also be completed in 45 days from the day the court takes the charge sheet into cognizance, they said. Hasina was detained on extortion charges and sent to a special jail set up in the parliament complex. -The Daily Star, July 19.

14,000 workers to lose jobs
The government has decided to shut down four state-owned jute mills and retrench 14,000 workers from 22 mills including these four as part of its three-year reform programme to revive the country's jute sector. Under this programme Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) will resume operation at its 18 mills from this month, said Geeteara Safiya Choudhury, adviser to the jute and textiles ministry. The ministry has sought Tk 200 crore from the finance ministry for these mills to procure jute from this month, Geeteara said at a press briefing at her jute ministry conference room. She said the ministry has also sought Tk 138 crore to get cash credit from different commercial banks through issuing government bond and guarantee. The ministry found People Jute Mills in Khulna, Karnaphuli Jute Mills and Forat-Karnaphuli Carpet Factory in Chittagong, and Kaomi Jute Mills in Sirajganj non-viable to run and they will be closed permanently to sell out them to private entrepreneurs. The adviser said a total of 6,000 workers of these four mills will be retrenched. Another 8,000 workers will be retrenched from the rest 18 mills to bring down the work force of the mills by 50 percent. Then the necessary workers will be recruited on a daily basis to save a huge amount of money as labour cost. -The Daily Star, July 19.

Draft policy on shipbreaking aims to protect environment
The government has prepared a draft policy on shipbreaking, aiming to protect the environment and prevent accidents during shipbreaking that claim many workers' lives every year. A high official in the shipping ministry said the policy would be placed before the advisory council soon for the final go-ahead. The shipping ministry will hold an inter-ministerial meeting, where representatives of different ministries and stakeholders will place their recommendations before the draft is finalised. Sources said the policy would suggest the government to form a permanent advisory committee comprising government representatives, industry people and representatives of other institutions concerned to provide necessary suggestions to the government. Salaries of the committee members and expenditure of the committee is to be met by donations from scrap-ship importers and ship breakers, the sources added. Ships imported for scrapping cannot be used for other purposes and an importer has to acquire necessary approval from the government before importing a ship. To keep the environment clean, the draft policy suggested all ships imported for scrapping have to be free from any kinds of explosives, gases and poisonous materials. Ships may not have fuel, lubricants, refrigerators, batteries, asbestos and PVC pipes in them either. -The Daily Star, July 19..

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