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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: 250
August 12, 2006

This week's issue:
Law Alter Views
Law Education
Human Rights Advocacy
Rights Investigation
for Your Information
Law Campaign
Court Corridor
Law Week

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Law Week

Prison years lost in coordination maze
Although the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) was amended three years ago to provide for deducting from the prison sentence the period spent behind bars before the judgment, many convicts have yet to gain from it for lack of coordination between the authorities concerned. The home ministry itself took 32 months to inform the prisons directorate about the amendment. The prisons headquarters officially received the notification in February and informed authorities of the country's 66 prisons of it the following month. Many prisoners have to serve more time than the period of their sentences, as there is barely any communication between the jail authorities, courts and prisoners' counsels. Due to lack of coordination, officials of different jails now depend on the inmates to know for how many days they have been to prison. Section 35A of the CrPC too would provide for deducting from a convict's sentence the time he/she has spent in jail before the judgment. But it would not apply to the ones convicted of an offence punishable only by death. Besides, the deduction then depended solely on the will of the court, as it was not obligatory for the courts to exercise this power. By introducing the amendment to the CrPC in July 2003, the government made it a compulsory provision for the judges to follow. --The Daily Star, August 6.

HC Issues Rule
Why should Rab, cops not protect arrested persons

The High Court (HC) issued a rule nisi on the government, police and Rab to explain why they should not be directed to ensure protection of the people arrested or detained in custody as per the law. An HC division bench passed the order following a writ petition filed by Human Rights and Peace for Bangladesh (HRPB) challenging the failure of the Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) to protect the lives of the arrestees or detainees in its custody. The respondents, who have been asked to reply within three weeks, are home secretary, inspector general of police, and director general of Rab, directors of Rab-1, Rab-2, Rab-3, Rab-4 and Rab-10. HRPB Chairman Syed Arif Niazi, advocates Asaduzzaman Siddique, Aklas Uddin Bhuiyan and Mujibur Rahman filed the petition on behalf of the human rights organisation.

The petition said that "surprisingly from the very first day, the activities of Rab were neither within the limits of the constitution nor within the bounds of any law of the land." They submitted a list of the people killed in the name of crossfire in 2005. The list was drawn up from the newspaper reports. --The Daily Star, August 7.

Attack on Lebanon
PM to send letter to UN soon
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia is sending letters to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council with a call for immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Lebanon. Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan announced this at a press conference, saying the draft of the letter is at the final stage and it would be sent in two or three days. Morshed said the United Nations should act immediately to stop Israeli aggression in Lebanon to uphold public confidence in the world body. He said Bangladesh still believes that UN is the only place where all could put their hands together to find solution to problems. Describing the Israeli attacks on innocent Lebanese as a heinous act, Morshed said, "It is not acceptable to us that the whole world will remain as spectator when thousands of innocent men, women and children are being killed in Lebanon." The foreign minister refuted the Israeli action on the pretext that Hezbollah guerrillas abducted two Israeli soldiers. "This is a pre-planned attack by Israel which was waiting for an opportune moment," he said. --UNB, Dhaka, August 7.

Updated Voter List
EC to ask for exemption from PPR to complete printing by Oct
The Election Commission (EC) Secretariat decided to request the cabinet purchase committee to exempt it from the public procurement regulations (PPR) 2003 to enable it to complete printing of the updated voter list by October. It took the decision at an inter-ministerial meeting that discussed possible complexities arising out of compliance with the PPR. Sources said the EC Secretariat is going to make such a request mainly due to time constraint caused by the loss of over six months in preparing a controversial fresh voter list. Now, it is not possible to complete printing of the updated voter list this year if the PPR is to be complied with while the parliamentary election is scheduled to be held by January next year, the sources pointed out. "We will request the cabinet purchase committee to exempt us from the provisions of the PPR so that we can give work orders for printing the updated voter list soon after completing the ongoing task of updating the list," EC Secretary Abdur Rashid Sarkar told The Daily Star. The PPR makes it mandatory to follow the process prescribed in it for giving any work order involving Tk 1 crore or more. Sources at the EC Secretariat said it will have to spend over Tk 15 crore to complete printing of the updated voter list. --The Daily Star, August 8.

3rd Karnaphuli Bridge
HC rejects writ petition seeking stay order
The High Court (HC) summarily rejected a writ petition seeking a stay order on the construction of a pillar-based third bridge over the Karnaphuli River. Supreme Court lawyer barrister Imtiaz Uddin Ahmed Asif filed the public interest litigation writ petition in an HC division bench on July 23. The petitioner however said he will appeal to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court against the HC rejection order. The HC on July 24 ordered the government to suspend for seven days all activities on the pillar-based Third Karnaphuli Bridge as the government sought time to respond to the writ petition. The court also ordered the communications ministry to build a suspension bridge as per the recommendations by the Buet experts. The petitioner said if the bridge is constructed with 'faulty design' ignoring the experts' recommendations, it would cause excess sedimentation in the Karnaphuli River resulting in loss of navigability in the Chittagong Port channel. Dr M Zahir and advocate Asaduzzaman moved the case on behalf of the petitioner. Attorney General AJ Mohammad took part in the hearing for the state side. --The Daily Star, August 8.

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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