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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: 49
December 29 , 2007

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Public servants asked to disclose wealth by Dec 31
All government servants must declare the amounts of their wealth by December 31 as required by the government as part of its newest move to boost the ongoing anti-corruption drive through ensuring transparency in the administration. The move requires public servants to declare the amounts of their wealth at the time of their joining the service and updating those every five year. While issuing an order regarding the matter in the third week of this month, the establishment ministry circulated two tables one for statements listing movable and immovable properties owned at the time of joining the service and another for updating the declared list for preparing a central database of wealth of about 10 lakh public servants. Meanwhile, there is a strong possibility of extending the December 31 deadline as the establishment ministry received a number of requests for the extension, according to reliable sources. The Government Servants (Conduct) Rules, 1979, which requires every government servant to declare his or her or any of the family members' movable and immovable properties at the time of joining the service, and an update showing any increase or decrease in the amount of the declared property every five years, has not been followed properly for a long time, according to the establishment ministry. -The Daily Star, December 24.

Govt to think about lifting emergency if EC wants so
Law Adviser Mainul Hosein said the caretaker government would discuss lifting the state of emergency if the Election Commission (EC) wants so in the interests of local government elections. “It is the Election Commission who will fix the schedule and hold the elections. So let them say first what they want. We will discuss it with the chief adviser,” he said replying to a query. The present government does not need the state of emergency to remain in power, he said adding that they would withdraw emergency only when they would think the time is ripe and doing so is needed for the sake of national peace and stability. Talking to reporters at his ministry, Mainul said many qualified people are there to lead the nation. There must be a qualitative change in politics. But the language the politicians still use suggests that hardly any change has taken place, he noted. "Let the politicians commit themselves to not going back to the situation preceding January 11," he said. Coming down hard on politicians, Mainul said people have been struggling for democracy since the British rule. But politicians do little to help the cause. -The Daily Star, December 24.

Optical Fibre Line
HC order allows BTTB to sign deal for backup
The High Court in a rule recently stayed an order of the Bangladesh Telecom Regulatory Commission (BTRC) and allowed a private company sign a deal with Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) for swapping an optical fibre network. This gives BTTB the chance to have this vital backup line free of cost. The backup line is required to stay connected to the submarine cable when the main line is disrupted; and thus ensure uninterrupted telecom and Internet communications. The High Court rule was issued following a writ petition filed by private phone company Bangla Phone, which has been receiving various kinds of warning from the BTRC since May. Bangla Phone is focussed on setting up fibre optic network, sources said. The BTRC had warned Bangla Phone of cancelling its telephony licence for violation of licence terms, but so far remained vague about the allegations. However, Bangla Phone categorically defended its position saying all of its activities have been in line with the licence terms.

Bangla Phone was trying to have an agreement earlier this year with BTTB for swapping optical fibre networks between Cox's Bazar and Dhaka, which would provide a vital backup for BTTB's own network that connects the country with the submarine cable. -The Daily Star, December 24.

Govt firm on forming Truth Commission
Law Adviser Mainul Hosein said differences of opinion regarding the formation of the proposed Truth Commission will not deter the government from going ahead with the initiative. "To the best of my knowledge, the government is actively considering forming the Truth Commission despite differences of opinion," he told reporters at the Secretariat. He made the statement when reporters asked about the fate of the much-talked about body, which would receive confession from people accused of corruption and decide financial penalties instead of sending them to jail. the issue has already generated public debate. "There are differences of opinion, which is not right. It is creating confusion to some extent," Mainul said. He brushed aside any uncertainty regarding the formation of the commission due to the confusion. He said at first the government was considering forming the commission only for businessmen so that the complaints against the businessmen could be dealt with quickly and they could go on with their businesses and continue their economic activities. But many people and the media raised question as to why only the businessmen would have access to commission, why not the politicians, he said adding that the government has decided to allow the politicians have access to the commission. The government wants to repatriate the sum of money that have been siphoned off abroad. The Truth Commission is needed to make that happen, said the adviser. -The Daily Star, December 25.

DU Teachers' cases
Courts record statements of complainants
Two Dhaka courts completed recording statements of the complainants of two cases filed against four Dhaka University (DU) teachers and 15 students for violating Emergency Power Rules in August this year. The complainants are Sergeant Shawkat Ahmed of Nilkhet Police Box and Sub-Inspector (SI) Rezaul Karim of Shahbagh Police Station. The detained teachers are Prof Sadrul Amin, president of Dhaka University Teachers' Association, Prof Anwar Hossain, general secretary of Duta, Prof Harun-ar-Rashid, dean of the Science Faculty, and Prof Neem Chandra Bhowmik, chairman of the department of applied physics.Lawyers for Prof Sadrul Amin, Prof Anwar Hossain, Prof Harun-ar-Rashid and a detained student named Moniruzzaman cross-examined Sergeant Shawkat Ahmed for an hour and Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Golam Rabbani recorded his statement. After recording the statement, the court fixed December 31 for next hearing of the case. Later, the teachers and the student were brought to the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate Habibur Rahman Siddiqui where the defence lawyers cross-examined the complainant Rezaul Karim. The court fixed December 31 for next hearing of the case. -The Daily Star, December 25.

Stolen statues
Int'l smuggling rackets might be involved
Investigators of the artefacts heist at Zia International Airport are yet to find any clues or motives even after 100 hours of the incident. Their impression is that it was a "deliberate" and "well-planned" take. They are also trying to find out if local or international smuggling groups were involved in the theft. Law enforcers, so far, arrested 15 people in connection with the heist and investigators believe that any of the 15 could have information about the incident or even be involved in it. They have been placed on a five-day remand. Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), which plays a vital role in the investigation, focused on the suspects for their probe. Additional Director General of Rab Colonel Gulzar Uddin Ahmed told The Daily Star "Our prime suspects now are the 15 arrested people. It is impossible for the heist to have taken place without them not noticing." "We are trying to recover the stolen artefacts besides finding out the culprits," Gulzar said. Rab sources said none of them yet confessed to them of having any link to the heist but investigators discovered anomalies in the statements of a number of arrestees and initial investigation is going ahead based on these.- The Daily Star, December 26.

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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