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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: 182
March 19, 2005

This week's issue:
Human Rights Analysis
Law Alter Views
Rights Investigation
Rights Monitor
Rights Corner
Law Watch
Law Week

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Law week

Smoking in public places banned
The Jatiya Sangsad passed a bill imposing a ban on smoking at public places and in public transports, and on advertisement of tobacco products.

Health and Family Welfare Minister Khandakar Mosharraf Hossain introduced the bill which prohibits publication of advertisements of tobacco products in newspapers, books and magazines, in radio and television broadcasts, and in cinema.

The new law also bans smoking in public places and transports with a provision for penalty. Anyone who violates the provision will be fined Tk 50. However, it says the authorities or caretaker of any public place or transport can make special arrangements for smokers.

The category of public places include educational institutions, government, semi-government and autonomous offices, libraries, lifts, hospitals, clinics, court buildings, airports, sea and river port buildings, railway stations, bus terminals, ferries, cinema halls, covered exhibition centres, theatres, children's parks and other places designated by gazette notifications.

According to the new law, putting up billboards and printing leaflets and handbills or any other documents, including films and videotapes, containing advertisement of tobacco are banned.

The law dictates that no company will be allowed to distribute tobacco free of cost, arrange any competition and make any offer of scholarship or donation to publicise tobacco products. A punishment of three months imprisonment or a fine of Tk 1,000 or both is enforceable for its violation. The Daily Star, March 14.

Caretaker chief should be acceptable to all
Leaders of different opposition political parties and legal experts at a roundtable suggested appointment of an acceptable person as the chief adviser of caretaker government through consensus of all parties.

They called for amending the provision of making the immediate past chief justice as head of the caretaker administration and observed that the next election will not be free and fair without necessary reforms in the caretaker government system. The discussants suggested selecting a non-partisan and neutral person from any profession, who is acceptable to all, to head the interim government for the sake of holding the national elections in a free and fair manner.

Apprehending rigging in the next election, they said the government has extended the retirement age of justices with an ill motive to make a person loyal to them the chief of the next caretaker government. The main opposition Awami League (AL) organised the roundtable titled "Democracy and Election: necessity of reforming the caretaker government system" at a city hotel as part of its campaign for reforms of the system.

After the discussion by lawmakers, politicians, legal experts and political scientists, the meeting decided to form an 'all-party committee' within a couple of days to work out concrete proposals on the issue. The Daily Star, March 15.

Policemen face contempt charge
The High Court issued a contempt of court ruling against three traffic police for stopping the car of a HC judge on March 6 to serve a traffic warrant.

Ordering them to appear in person before the court on March 28, the court asked the traffic personnel to reply in two weeks why punitive action should not be taken against them for the contempt. The court also ordered the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM), Dhaka to reply by the same period as to why the process of issuing warrants against vehicles would not be cancelled. The HC bench comprising Justice SK Sinha and Justice Shamim Hasnain issued the rules on sergeant ATM Iqbal, in-charge of warrant section of the office of Deputy Commissioner (DC), Traffic (South) Mozammel Haq and traffic constable Shahidul Islam.

The ruling came after Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Traffic (South) Ansar Uddin Khan Pathan yesterday disclosed before the court that the three were on duty at the time of the incident. He also described the incident that took place at Shahbagh intersection on March 6.

After the incident, the same bench directed the traffic DC to appear before the court with a report giving the names of the traffic police and the records of the case filed in 2004. He gave a slip wherein the number of the case was mentioned as Warrant No. 6403/04. "The concerned judge was bewildered at the behaviour on the part of the members of a disciplined service on duty," reads the court order served on traffic DC on March 6. Prothom Alo, March 15.

Judiciary Separation: HC grants govt one more month
The Supreme Court granted one more month to the government to separate the judiciary from the executive in line with its 12-point directive. The full bench of the Appellate Division headed by Chief Justice Syed JR Mudassir Husain granted the 20th extension of deadline, upon a government petition filed in August last year. The court however turned down a petition of nine government officials, facing contempt charges for distorting the court directive, seeking exemption from appearing in the court in person. Advocate TH Khan pleaded for their exemption. The court, earlier, asked the government to submit the final draft rules on separation of the judiciary which had been sent to the president for approval. But the state side did not submit it. Attorney General (AG) AF Hassan Ariff submitted a comparative study between the Supreme Court draft and the draft sent to the president.

"We do not want comparative studies of the draft rules. Show us what exactly you have finalised for the president's approval," the court told the attorney general. "We are not convinced of your submission. We hope good sense will prevail on the government," the court observed and allowed one month's time to implement its orders. The court also asked the AG to convey the court's attitude on separation of the judiciary to the government. The Daily Star, March 16.

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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