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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: 118
March 22, 2009

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61pc driving licences obtained without test
Sixty-one percent drivers have got driving licences from Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) without sitting for the required test while 54 percent of them drive vehicles on roads in the country with expired licences.

A report of the Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) also reveals that a person has to bribe BRTA officials concerned Tk 100 to Tk 7,000 to get a driving licence and Tk 100-500 for passing a driving test. Drivers also use fake medical certificates to get licences.

Taking into cognisance the huge politicisation and corruption in the country's road transport sector, Communications Minister Syed Abul Hossain pledged to form a powerful committee within a week to root out the irregularities and modernise the sector. -The Daily Star, March 23, 2009.

Separation of judiciary spirit at stake
Empowering executive magistrates to take cognisance of offences for trial in any case is against the sprit of the constitution and separation of judiciary from the executive, barrister M Amir-Ul Islam told the Supreme Court (SC).

Amir, who has been fighting for long 14 years for separation of judiciary, made the comment when a full bench of appellate division headed by Chief Justice MM Ruhul Amin sought his expert opinion during the hearing of Masdar Hossain case, popularly known as judiciary separation case.

The Appellate Division was scheduled for holding the hearing on the government's progress in executing the separation of judiciary from executive, as the immediate-past caretaker government officially announced separation of judiciary on November 1, 2007.

The court adjourned hearing of the case until May 12 and asked the government to convey the court by this period the progress in implementing the recommendations of the judicial service pay commission for enhancing facilities of judicial officials. -The Daily Star, March 23, 2009.

Tk 1,200 crore left aside in govt coffer
The Bangladesh Bank and National Board of Revenue (NBR) have suggested the government take a decision on Tk 1,200 crore which was realised by the army-backed caretaker government during its anti-graft drives as both the bodies have no authority to determine legality of the money to use it.

During the drive in 2007 and 2008, the joint task forces realised the money from different businessmen and politicians in fines. Finance and planning adviser of the caretaker government Mirza Azizul Islam in his budget speech mentioned that the money was deposited with the Bangladesh Bank.

But sources at the finance ministry said the money remains unused, there being no clear-cut decision as to its legality. Recently the finance ministry had sent letters to the Bangladesh Bank and NBR to know about the money. -The Daily Star, March 22, 2009.

Feni gas field reels from writ petition
As a partner of the controversial Canadian oil company Niko, which developed and began selling gas from the marginal Feni Gas Field from late 2004, Bapex has been suffering financially by a four-year-old writ petition filed by Bangladesh Environment Lawyers' Association (Bela) and others with the High Court.

While the court is finally holding hearings on the petition, both Niko and Bapex's arrears with Petrobangla for sale of around 20 billion cubic feet of gas till date remain unpaid. Petrobangla owes Bapex around Tk 50 crore (more than $7 million) and Niko around $22 million.

A High Court order also suspended drilling of any development well in the Feni Gas Field. "Once the High Court clears the case, Niko would re-invest this money to drill two development wells in Feni to boost gas production by 40 million cubic feet per day from this formerly abandoned gas field," said a well-placed Petrobangla source, referring to an appeal of Niko to the court regarding this matter. -The Daily Star, March 22, 2009.

Tk 6,542cr revenue stuck in litigation
The National Board of Revenue (NBR) could not realise around Tk 6,542 crore in revenue because of 16,372 unresolved cases.

NBR sources said there might be a massive shortfall in revenue collection in the current fiscal year due to the global financial crisis and realisation of the arrears can help to achieve the target.

Sources said the tax administration has set a Tk 54,500 crore revenue collection target for the current fiscal year but the collection may not cross over Tk 51,000 crore.

Against the backdrop, the NBR has taken initiative to collect money through resolving the cases soon. In 2007-2008 FY, the NBR collected Tk 47,287 crore in revenue against a target of Tk 45,970 crore. -The Daily Star, March 22, 2009.

FBI smells conspiracy in BDR carnage
The visiting Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team has said the carnage at Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) headquarters last month was a "conspiracy".

The FBI agents made the observation after comparing the BDR incident with mutinies staged by military and paramilitary forces in other countries, said officials of Criminal Investigation Department (CID) after a meeting with the team. The CID sources, however, declined to elaborate on the matter.

At the meeting the FBI team has also assured the local investigators of giving all kinds of assistance in finding out foreign links to the February 25-26 BDR massacre in which 73 people, including 56 army officers and their relatives, were killed.

The FBI agents said Bangladeshi investigators seriously lack modern equipment in probing such a grave incident but appreciated their skills. -The Daily Star, March 21, 2009.

Most stranded Bangladeshis get entry to Malaysia
Malaysia has taken in most of the 532 Bangladeshi workers who were stranded in Kuala Lumpur International Airport for around 12 days since the cancellation of 55,000 work visas.

On Thursday, employers and outsourcing companies received around 300 workers from the immigration section, said sources close to recruitment business. Earlier last week, 184 were allowed entry. They arrived in the KL airport on March 8 and 9.

“The immigration authorities are also allowing in those returning from vacation,” said a Bangladeshi businessman in Malaysia. Following the Malaysian government's cancellation of 55,000 work visas to Bangladeshis, the immigration barred all workers including those who had been coming back to work after vacation at home.

In response, the Bangladesh government told its Southeast Asian counterpart that those who had already arrived there should be let in on humanitarian grounds. -The Daily Star, March 21, 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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