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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: 166
April 24, 2010

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4 ship-breaking yards sued
The Department of Environment (DoE) sued four ship-breaking yards in Chittagong for causing pollution just days after the commerce ministry decided to allow dismantling vessels built with toxic substances. Ignoring an order of the High Court, ministry has recently relaxed its import policy allowing scrappers to import such vessels. None of over 100 ship-breaking yards in the country has any facilities to clean ships built with substances like asbestos and PCB. Every ship-breaking yard has to have a clearance certificate from the government saying while dismantling the vessels it would not pollute the environment. None of the 69 shipyards operating currently has such certificates. The DoE served notices upon them to have the certificate after the HC ordered the government last year to shut those scrappers. - The Daily Star, April 22, 2010.

Row over oath continues
Chief Justice Mohammad Fazlul Karim said he would take steps soon to resolve the crisis regarding the swearing in of two High Court judges. But the CJ did not say if he himself would swear them in, said a group of pro-Awami League lawyers after meeting the CJ at his Supreme Court office. Former Supreme Court Bar Association secretary AM Amin Uddin, one of the lawyers, told The Daily Star that the chief justice has no option but to have judges Ruhul Quddus and Md Khasruzzaman sworn in since their appointments are still valid. - The Daily Star, April 22, 2010.

CJ approved all of 17 judge appointments
The chief justice, who did not swear in two of the 17 newly appointed additional High Court judges, had approved all the 17 to be appointed by the president. A few legal experts said it is the CJ's constitutional responsibility to swear in any judge appointed by the president. "There is no question of cancelling the appointments of the two judges as appointments of all the 17 judges were made in consultation with the chief justice as per existing convention and provision," Law Minister Shafique Ahmed told The Daily Star. On April 11, President Zillur Rahman temporarily appointed the 17 persons as additional judges of the High Court for two years as per the constitution. - The Daily Star, April 21, 2010.

EC allocates 1.2m euros more to help address impact
The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Department has allocated 1.2 million euros as humanitarian aid to address the impact of rodent crisis in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). The commission has already allocated 3.65 million euros since the crisis began to assist the most affected population with food and income generating activities. The people living in the remote areas of the CHT are still facing severe food insecurity due to a three-year-long rat plague, which affected their crops. Every 40-50 years the bamboo plants produce flowers which, when consumed, cause the rats to reproduce at an accelerated rate, said a press release of the European Union Delegation to Bangladesh.
The rats have eaten seeds, crops and food stocks leaving an estimated 130,000 people with inadequate food sources or incomes. - The Daily Star, April 21, 2010.

56 BDR rebels jailed in Satkhira
The Special Court-1 of Bangladesh Rifles sentenced 56 accused of 7 Rifle Battalion to different terms of rigorous imprisonment for their involvement in mutiny in Nildumur of Shyamnagar. The court set up at 41 Rifle Battalion also acquitted four accused -- sepoys Zaidul Islam, Golam Masud, Makbul Hossain and Golam Mostafa Sagir -- as the prosecution could not prove the charges against them. BDR Director General Maj Gen M Mainul Islam, president of the special court, pronounced the verdict at 1:00pm on completion of trial proceedings under the Bangladesh Rifles Act, 1972. Twenty-four BDR men were jailed for seven years, four for five years, three for four years and a half, five for four years, three for three years, one for two year and a half, four for two years, two for one year and a half, six for thirteen months, one for six months and three for four months. - The Daily Star, April 20, 2010.

Allegations not true
Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said the allegations against two newly appointed High Court judges are false, and he hoped they would be sworn in soon. “The gazette notification regarding appoinstments of the High Court judges is still in force. The appointments are legal and valid. I think the allegations brought against the two judges are false,” he told journalists after attending the launching ceremony of a book. “I hope swearing-in of the two judges will be held soon,” the minister said. - The Daily Star, April 20, 2010.

Rare absence of SC judges marks oath
Breaking away from the tradition, no judges of the Appellate Division were present when the chief justice swore in the newly appointed 15 High Court judges. Chief Justice Mohammad Fazlul Karim administered the oath at the Judges' Lounge of the Supreme Court in the morning, leaving out judges Ruhul Quddus Babu and Md Khasruzzaman as per his earlier decision. Senior lawyers observed that both the incidents--the CJ's decision not to swear in the two judges and the apex court judges' absenting themselves from the oath-taking ceremony--are unprecedented. However, many HC judges attended the function. - The Daily Star, April 19, 2010.

57 BDR rebels convicted
The BDR Special Court-3 in Feni sentenced 57 out of 62 mutiny accused jawans of 19 Rifles Battalion to different terms in prison. The rest five were acquitted of the allegation. It was the third judgment given in connection with the last year's BDR mutiny. The chairman of the court, BDR Director General Maj Gen Moinul Islam delivered the verdict. In addition to jail terms, the court also fined each convict Tk 100. They will serve the sentences in civil jails. The judgment has been delivered following the BDR law. - The Daily Star, April 19, 2010.

No law as yet for recruitment
A parliamentary sub-committee is going to recommend enacting a law, setting criteria, qualities and qualifications for appointment of the Supreme Court judges to do away with the politicisation of the appointment process. Formed by the parliamentary standing committee on law, justice and parliamentary affairs ministry, the five-member sub-committee has almost completed drafting the law. Despite its necessity, no move was made in over last 38 years to enact the law. - The Daily Star, April 18, 2010.

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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