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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: 4
January 27, 2007

This week's issue:
Law Opinion
Crime & Punishment
Law in-depth
Rights Investigation
Rights Monitor
Law Week

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Law Week

SC asks govt to submit amended CrPC by Feb 1
The Supreme Court (SC) ordered the government to submit an amended Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) by February 1 to advance separation of the judiciary from the executive. It also asked the government to correct some 'erroneous' provisions in the four rules for judicial services by the same date. The seven-member full bench of the Appellate Division with Chief Justice Syed JR Mudassir Husain in the chair passed the order. The nine government officials, accused of distorting the 12-point SC directive given earlier for the separation, stood with their hands folded and sought the apex court's forgiveness as the proceedings began at 9:42am. After a while, they were however asked to sit down. Attorney General (AG) AJ Mohammad Ali said the rules for the judicial services have already been submitted to the court in affidavit. In reply, the bench said it has detected some errors in the rules and those need to be corrected. Mohammad Ali said the rules were promulgated in line with the court order. "One or two errors may be there, but there is no deviation from the court directives," Ali said. -The Daily Star, January 22.

M Aziz finally resigns
Justice MA Aziz resigned from the post of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) citing a major political alliance's lack of confidence in him and to avert further political unrest in the country. Meanwhile, the Election Commission (EC) Secretariat issued a notification officially cancelling holding of the ninth parliamentary election. Aziz's departure ends his highly controversial 21-month stint in the office, during which he was forced to go on a leave of absence on November 22 after repeated demands for his resignation from Awami League (AL)-led alliance for failing to prepare a correct and updated voter list. His resignation follows the newly appointed caretaker government's announcement that reconstituting the problem-ridden EC is its top priority so that it can proceed with other electoral reforms, namely updating the voter list, and institutionalising the system of voter ID cards and transparent ballot boxes. Law Adviser Mainul Hosein told The Daily Star that the caretaker government decided to appoint a new CEC within a couple of days. It has been learnt that the new CEC will be selected from the bureaucracy. -The Daily Star, January 22.

BB plans to go tough against loan defaulters
Bangladesh Bank is actively considering tougher legal steps against bank loan defaulters, seeking cooperation of the finance ministry to amend the Representation of the People Order (RPO) 1972. The RPO that bars bank loan defaulters from contesting any election is needed to be amended as its arm does not reach the loan defaulters of financial institutions. The Election Commission had cancelled about 200 nomination papers on grounds of loan default while scrutinising the candidatures for the general election that was cancelled on Sunday, EC sources said. Some of them, however, were exempted on appeal. The central bank recommended the finance ministry to prepare the nomenclature of defaulters of financial institutions to prevent them from contesting the election. "The finance adviser has already discussed the issue with the law adviser," a highly placed official told the news agency. The decision came in line with the maiden speech of the chief adviser to the caretaker government to make election free from corrupt people and black money holders. The central bank also recommended the finance ministry to take up with the Ministry of Law to simultaneously dispose of the pending writ petitions regarding default loan cases of similar nature. Around 200 writ petitions are pending with the High Court seeking removal of the names from the defaulter list of the Credit Information Bureau (CIB) of the central bank, sources concerned said. Unb, Dhaka, January 23.

Rights body concerned at deaths in army custody
Rights watchdog Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) expressed grave concern at deaths of four people in army custody in 24 hours and demanded independent probe into and steps to stop recurrence of such deaths. Odhikar, another rights watchdog, also demanded independent inquiry into the killing of 19 people in the custody of army, police and Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) in last 10 days, and making public the inquiry reports. "We are deeply shocked as killing without trial in 'special drives' after forming 'special forces' in the name of law and order, instance of which was established earlier, did not stop even during the present caretaker government," ASK said in a statement. Number of deaths in Rab crossfire and deaths in army custody is on the rise although the government keeps on saying that it will remain cautious about protecting human rights, said the statement signed by ASK Executive Director Sultana Kamal. Quoting newspapers, ASK said five people were killed in army custody since the declaration of emergency. The rights watchdog noted that inhumane and extra-judicial activities like killing without trial are contrary to the present caretaker government's vow to eradicate all injustice, corruption and irregularities from the country.
-Prothom Alo, January 23.

Be honest and neutral or face punishment
Chief Adviser (CA) to the Caretaker Government Fakhruddin Ahmed in his first meeting with secretaries to the ministries warned them of severe punitive measures if they do not carry out their duties with sincerity, honesty and neutrality. Fakhruddin held a two hour-long meeting with the secretaries in Bangladesh Secretariat where he later spent hours in his own office. Cabinet Secretary Ali Imam Mazumdar said, "Politicisation of the administration is not a new phenomenon. We want to be liberated from this poisonous atmosphere." "Some people voluntarily get involved with politicisation, while others become victims of circumstances created by the politicisation," he said. Fakhruddin stressed, "Government officials have to remember that no political party is their master. They are the servants of the people's republic." Pointing out that tax paid by the citizens pay for government officials' wages and also runs the government, Fakhruddin said, "All officials have to ensure that the government services are delivered to the people's doorsteps." The newly appointed CA said he believed in those values while he was a public servant and hoped that the government officials will also be inspired by the values. -The Daily Star, January 24.

Government aims for anti-graft body overhauling
The caretaker government will amend the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Act and is strongly considering reconstitution of the three-member anti-graft body that has remained non-functional since its formation in November 2004. "The previous government deliberately made a crippled commission which, we found, needs a total reform," said Communication Adviser Maj Gen (retd) MA Matin. He is one of the seven members of the committee formed at the first formal meeting of the advisory council on Monday to find ACC's legal, administrative and institutional flaws. While the committee, headed by Law Adviser Mainul Hosein, is yet to begin its work formally, its members have already started their individual studies. "When we start working together, we will share our observations and recommendations to yield the best output in terms of making the commission effective in combating corruption," a committee member told The Daily Star, seeking anonymity. The newly formed caretaker government led by Dr Fakhruddin Ahmed set curbing corruption as one of its prime pre-poll tasks. Following strong criticism and frustration from local and international experts over the ACC's failure to function, the caretaker government resolved to address the commission's institutional, legal or administrative flaws to make it functional. -The Daily Star, January 24.

Attorney general resigns
Attorney General AJ Mohammad Ali stepped down from the country's highest law officer's post in the wake of increasing demand for his resignation. "I have resigned and sent my resignation letter to the president," Mohammad Ali confirmed when The Daily Star contacted him over telephone. He, however, declined to disclose the reasons for his resignation. When journalists tried to meet Mohammad Ali at his office immediately after his resignation to verify the news and its reasons, they were told that he would meet them later on. But Mohammad Ali did not meet the reporters and sent an advocate instead, who told newsmen that the attorney general resigned on personal ground. Son of Bangladesh's first attorney general MH Khandakar, Mohammad Ali was appointed in the post on April 30, 2005 after the then attorney general, AF Hassan Ariff, resigned. Mohammad Ali was appointed additional attorney general on October 23, 2001. The Awami League and its allies in the grand alliance and a section of lawyers demanded Mohammad Ali's resignation from the post of attorney general, alleging his bias towards the BNP-led four-party coalition. -The Daily Star, January 25.

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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