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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: 110
March 14, 2009

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100 JS reserved seats pledged for women
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the number of reserved seats for women in parliament would be 100 from 45 at present, with provision of direct voting. She also declared that the government will repeal all the existing laws that discriminate against women. The prime minister announced her government's major plans while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the International Women's Day at Osmani Memorial Hall in the capital. “We will reintroduce the National Women Development Policy adopted during the last Awami League government's tenure. We gave nomination to maximum number of women for contesting the December 29 polls," Hasina said. "A maximum number of women have also been inducted in the cabinet. We believe in political empowerment of women to ensure their social dignity and contribution to economical activities,” the premier told her audience. In line with the constitution, the government is committed to establishing women's rights and stopping violence against them, she said. -The Daily Star, March 09, 2009.

Desperate bid for judicial power
Executive magistrates, cadres of the admin service, are pressing hard for getting back the power to take cognisance of offences for trial. They lost the authority in separation of the judiciary from the executive in 2007. Leaders of Bangladesh Administrative Service Association are lobbying government policymakers to meet the demand, said sources.
They are trying to convince the high-ups that the executive magistrates should be able to take judicial note of some offences to 'keep the administration active and promote good governance'. If the magistrates from admin are authorised to take cognisance of offences, the judicial magistrates will complete the rest of the trial proceedings. The cognisance signifies acceptance of an offence to be sent for trial. Bangladesh Judicial Service Association says returning the authority to executive magistrates would undermine the spirit of an independent judiciary. Administrative service leaders have already met members of the parliamentary standing committee on law, justice and parliamentary affairs, and requested them to reinstate the executive magistrates' cognisance power.
The standing committee, assigned to scrutinise the bill to introduce laws on separation of the judiciary, will hear both sides at a meeting today, said Abdul Matin Khasru, a member of the committee and former law minister. -The Daily Star, March 09, 2009.

Sentenced in absentia
At least 15 people including some high-profile politicians, who have been sentenced to imprisonment in absentia in different criminal cases, are now in the country, but not on bail or in jail. Attorney General Mahbubey Alam has termed their legal status as a "peculiar situation", while some other legal experts said the convicts now seem to be above the law and it is not a good sign for the society. They said the convicts will remain in this situation until a special bench of the High Court (HC) constituted by the chief justice delivers the final decision on their bail petitions. A division bench of the HC on February 23 delivered split orders on whether these people can directly come to the HC for bail without surrendering to the trial courts. Following the dissenting orders, the bail petitions have been sent to the chief justice for constituting a special bench of the HC for the final decision, sources said, adding that the chief justice has not constituted the special bench yet. -The Daily Star, March 10, 2009.

40 BDR men found directly involved
Investigators have found direct involvement of 40 members of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) so far in the bloody massacre and looting inside the Pilkhana BDR Headquarters during the February 25-26 mutiny. The Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) yesterday handed over 12 out of those 40 border guards to Lalbagh Police Station in connection with the mutiny case filed with the police station, said a top law-enforcing official involved in the investigation of the case wishing anonymity. Meanwhile, Pesh Imam of BDR central mosque Mohammad Siddiqur Rahman, a witness to the carnage in Pilkhana, died at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) yesterday afternoon after he fell sick during interrogation. Those who were found embroiled in the massacre are BDR Subeder Gofran Mallik, Havildar Rezaul Karim, Lance Nayek Gausul Azam, Lance Nayek Yusuf Ali, Sepoys Joyanta Kumar Sarkar, Zamir Ali, Abdul Latif, Sohrab Hossain, Ismail Hossain, Shariful Islam, Rafiqul Islam and Masudur Rahman. The top law-enforcing official said they had recovered firearms and grenades looted from the BDR headquarters from the village homes of Rafiqul, Shariful and Yusuf. -The Daily Star, March 12, 2009.

HC issues suo moto
The High Court (HC) yesterday issued a suo moto rule on the government to explain by March 19 why the ordinance regarding separation of judiciary was not ratified in parliament on time. Questioning the legality of judicial magistracy, the HC asked the law secretary and the Supreme Court registrar to explain under which legal authority judicial magistrates are functioning after February 24, the day the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) (amendment) Ordinance expired. The HC bench of justices ABM Khairul Haque and Md Abdul Hye issued the rule following a writ petition filed by Naboti Ranjan Chakma. The immediate past caretaker government promulgated two ordinances in April 2007 amending the code of criminal procedure to separate the judiciary from the executive. In the rule, the HC said the CrPc (amendment) Ordinance 2007 was not passed in parliament in 30 days after it was placed in the House. The ordinance expired on February 24, according to section 93 of the constitution which says any ordinance will cease to have effect if not passed in the parliament in 30 days after the session begins.
During hearing of the writ petition, the HC bench sought opinions from advocate Mahmudul Islam and Dr M Zahir, who were members of the government-formed special committee on the ordinances. They told the court that they suggested passage of the ordinance in parliament. -The Daily Star, March 12, 2009.

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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