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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: 268
December 30, 2006

This week's issue:
Star Law Review
Law Analysis
Fact File
Star Law Analysis
Human Rights Advocacy
Law Event
Law Week

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Law Week

13 jail officers harassed for steps against controversial acts

The prisons authorities are reportedly harassing 13 jail officials who took legal steps against some of the authorities' controversial steps. The authorities have initiated departmental proceedings and are lobbying with the home ministry for punishment of a senior jail superintendent. Moreover, departmental proceedings are underway against a jail superintendent basing on a letter from an anonymous sender that does not contain any specific allegation. They have also been learnt to be lobbying again with the home ministry for sending 11 officials into forced retirement on the ground of corruption and irregularities after failing to do so during the immediate past government's regime, home ministry sources said. The harassment began after 44 officials led by Senior Superintendent Sheikh Abdul Amik filed a writ petition challenging prison officers and staff recruitment rules, 2006 and the court issued a rule on September 6 why it should not be declared unconstitutional. Amik, the then head of Kashimpur jail, started to receive 'illegitimate' verbal orders from top prison officials and was demoted to superintendent as he was transferred to Sunamganj jail on October 9. But the High Court stayed the transfer order on October 19 and passed a rule on the jail authorities. Branding Amik as the 'most corrupt', the prisons authorities submitted application to the home ministry in the last week of November asking the authorities to take punitive action against him. The ministry, however, is yet to start a probe. -The Daily Star, December 24.

Accord with Khelafat sparks widespread condemnation

The accord between Awami League (AL) and Khelafat Majlish sent shockwaves throughout the country as widespread condemnation of the agreement poured in. The AL and Khelafat Majlish signed an agreement where AL pledged that they would allow alems (experts on Islamic law) to issue fatwa (religious decree), if the AL-led grand alliance was voted to power. Earlier, the Supreme Court banned the issuing of fatwa but the Appellate Division has placed a stay order on that rule. Different political, social, cultural, human rights and business organisations condemned the five-point pact where the AL also pledged to pass blasphemy law. Leaders of these organisations said the AL has tarnished the image of the nation as fatwa and blasphemy law violate the sprit of the Liberation War and human rights. They said the AL had upheld the spirit of the Liberation War and secularism but now the party has violated its principles ahead of the upcoming elections. They demanded the immediate cancellation of the agreement in the greater interest of secularism and human rights. Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), an NGO, in a press release said if laws were passed according to the agreement, it would violate section 39 of the constitution. They said it would tarnish the respect and honour of the courts as giving alems the power to issue fatwa will create another court alongside the existing courts. It would hurt all secular-minded people in the country, the ASK said. -The Daily Star, December 25.

Recovery of Arms
Joint forces swing into action soon

Joint forces will launch a massive drive to arrest criminals and recover illegal firearms to improve law and order ahead of the January 22 parliamentary elections. Armed forces, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab), police, Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) and Ansar will start the drive in four to five days on the basis of list of criminals prepared by police and the Rab, sources said. For the first time after formation on March 26 in 2004, the elite Rab will be engaged to ensure a peaceful atmosphere for holding a free and fair election alongside the armed forces, police, BDR and Ansar, sources said. The Election Commission (EC) arranges a high level meeting at the EC Secretariat to discuss ways of the special drive and work out a coordinated plan among the law enforcement agencies and the armed forces. Chiefs of the army, navy and air force, top brass of police, Rab, BDR, Ansar and coastguard and heads of intelligence agencies will participate in the meeting to review the law and order situation ahead of the polls. Seven secretaries including the cabinet and home secretaries will also attend the meeting. The participants will try to find out coordinated plans to keep law and order under control while the EC will give them guidelines with the focus on ensuring security to voters, EC secretariat sources said. -The Daily Star, December 26.

Appeal rejected in SC
Ershad barred from polls

Jatiya Party (JP) Chairman HM Ershad was declared disqualified from the ballot, forcing Awami League (AL)-led grand electoral alliance to re-think whether it will compete in the upcoming parliamentary election. Returning officers (RO) rejected the five nomination papers Ershad had filed for the constituencies of Dhaka-5, Rangpur-3, Lalmonirhat-3, Sylhet-3 and Habiganj-3, on grounds of the Supreme Court's rejection of his appeal against a High Court verdict that had sentenced him to two years in prison in a graft case popularly known as 'Japanese boat purchase scam'. The RO's rejection of Ershad's nomination papers sparked a violent protest in greater Rangpur where leaders and activists of JP (Ershad) staged protests and called for dawn-to-dusk hartals in different districts. Ershad, who could not contest the 2001 election as he had been convicted in Janata Tower case, can now file an appeal against his latest disqualification with the Election Commission (EC) in three days, on which the commission will have to give a decision before January 3. Sensing the rejection coming his way, Ershad met AL President Sheikh Hasina in her residence and discussed strategies for the next course of action. The grand electoral alliance, which includes AL-led 14-party, JP (Ershad), and Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), yesterday threatened to launch a movement and boycott the election if vested quarters do not refrain from 'conspiring'. -The daily Star, December 28.

300 hurt in clashes on final day of nomination filing

Around 300 people were injured as supporters of BNP and Awami League (AL) locked in inter-party and intra-party clashes across the country, the last day of nomination paper submission. In the capital, supporters of BNP leader and Dhaka City Corporation Mayor Sadeque Hossain Khoka and supporters of AL candidate for Dhaka-8 constituency Haji Mohammad Selim locked in a clash in front of the returning officer's office at Segunbagicha during filing of their nomination papers. The incident left over 100 injured, 70 of whom received primary treatment in Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Police fired rubber bullets and lobbed dozens of teargas canisters to disperse the troublemakers. During the clash, a number of vehicles including a media-owned car and a motorbike were set on fire. However, both Khoka and Selim filed their nomination papers and the situation become calm after they left the area. Meanwhile, supporters of BNP leader Nabi Ullah barricaded the Dhaka-Chittagong highway at Sanir Akhra in the capital for three hours after Nabi Ullah failed to get the party ticket. In Natore, BNP men attacked an AL procession in the town leaving at least 30 injured. Among them eight received bullet injuries, our Natore correspondent reports. AL leaders Gaffar, Anwar, Karim, Rahim, Arzu, Aman Ali, Saiful Islam and Hazrat Sarder were admitted to Natore Sadar Hospital with bullet injuries.- Prothom Alo, December 27.

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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