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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: 200
July 30, 2005

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BRTA accused of corruption frenzy
Rampant corruption, irregularities and mismanagement in the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has deprived the government of more than Tk 250 crore as revenue from the transport sector in last fiscal year, a high-level meeting at the Ministry of Communications observed.
The BRTA collected Tk 245 crore as license fees, road and transport taxes in the fiscal year 2004-05. But the amount could be over Tk 500 crore, had there been no corruption and mismanagement, the meeting said. The meeting decided to send a proposal to the cabinet for introducing BRTA special police force for controlling irregularities and mismanagement in the transport sector. The amended version of Bangladesh Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1939 will also be sent to the cabinet for approval. Eight mobile teams led by first class magistrates will start operation in the capital to enforce traffic rules and nab violators, meeting sources said. - The Daily Star, July 24.

VoIP not legalised 20 months after nod
Legalising Internet telephony is still hanging in the balance even after more than 20 months of the cabinet decision to authorise it. Internet telephony, technically termed the voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), is widely used illegally in the country, depriving the government of crores of taka in revenue. The government first decided to legalise VoIP in June 2002 and a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia cleared the decision on November 10, 2003. However, the decision is yet to be implemented. "The government has been incurring a loss of around Tk 400-500 crore annually due to the illegal use of VoIP," said Md Akhtaruzzaman Manju, president of the Internet Service Providers' Association of Bangladesh.
The private sector stakeholders in the executive committee of the ICT taskforce, which is responsible for implementing the government decision, preferred VoIP legalisation to take off with flat call charges and bring in changes when needed.
"But the delay in implementing the decision on VoIP is costing the government crores in revenue as illegal operators closely linked with the government are doing a brisk business in call termination," said a chief executive of an Internet Service Provider (ISP) company. ISPs are no more interested in VoIP due to the unabated illegal use of the technology by telephone operators, he said adding that the government should take steps to stop the illegal use of VoIP. - The Daily Star, July 24.

Govt mulls life term to check adulteration
The penalty for food adulteration is such a piffling amount under current measures that adulterators are hardly being punished, prompting the government to amend the decades old 'Pure Food Ordinance-1959.' Following a directive from the high level of government, a team will soon sit to draft an amendment allowing for harsher punishment including life term imprisonment, sources concerned said. Currently, the two recently formed mobile courts have been punishing culprits under four laws-- BSTI amended Act-2003, the City Corporation Act, the Pure Food Ordinance-1959 and section 273 -274 of the Bangladesh penal code. Authorities say, however, that all four of the laws lack sufficient teeth to cause real damage.
"We have been dealing with four laws but none of them is effective enough to punish the big fishes," said one magistrate from the mobile court.
The government recently formed two mobile courts to stop food adulteration and punish perpetrators after the publication of ''Eating dangerously," a series of reports in The Daily Star regarding food adulteration. After formation of the mobile courts, two teams have been conducting a drive under two magistrates in the city for the last month. They have so far doled out more than one million taka in fines, filed more than two hundreds cases, and jailed nearly two hundred people in connection with adulteration. - The Daily Star, July 25

Tengratila victims start 15-day agitation
The Tengratila Dabi Aday sangram Parishad, a non-poliitcal forum of affected people of Tengratila gas filed area, has announced a fortnight long agitation programme to realise their 8-point demand. The programme began. The demands include compansation from Canadian oil company Niko for all the affected people after inquiry and for the gas burnt out and environmental damage, supply of drinking water in the area, rehabilitation of the affected families and business establishments, shifting of Tengratila High School and Tengratila Primary School to safer places and assurance that such incidents will not take place any more.
The demands were put forward at a press conference held at Sylhet Press Club Saturday evening.
The agitation programme includes view exchange meetings with professional groups and political leaders in Doarabazar upazila from today, processions and protest rallies in Doarabazar and Chhatak, Sunamaganj district town and in Sylhet city from July 25 to August 2, human chain and mass hunger strike at Tengratila on August 4, and laying a siege to Niko's local office on August 7. A podium will be built at Tengralita on August 5 to hold protest programmes. - Prothom Alo, July 25.

SCBA secy's house raided twice
Law Minister Moudud Ahmed filed a defamation suit against Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) advocate Enayetur Rahim for issuing 'false statement' about him on the issue of presidential amnesty granted to a murderer. Although lawyers said it is a non-cognisable offence, Metropolitan Magistrate Mizanur Rahman issued a warrant of arrest against the SCBA secretary immediately after filing of the case. The court asked Enayetur to surrender before it by July 31. A police team twice went to Enayetur's Kalabagan residence last night, but he was not at home then, family sources told The Daily Star. But the Dhanmondi police, when contacted, denied the claim.
On Monday, Enayetur issued a statement, saying that Moudud had gone to Sweden and received hospitality at the house of Mohiuddin Jhintu, who was sentenced to death in 1982 in a double murder case, before the president granted him amnesty on January 13 this year. - The Daily Star, July 27.


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