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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: 25
June 23, 2007

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Law week

Illegal Hill Cutting
DoE officials defy mobile court order for filing case
The officials of the Department of Environment (DoE) in Chittagong allegedly dilly-dallied for hours to file a case, defying a mobile court's orders against an influential business group in connection with cutting hills in Foy's Lake area. The DoE, however, eventually lodged the case after the mobile court magistrate threatened to sue the DoE officials if they did not carry out his orders without any further delay, sources said yesterday. During the second day of the crackdown on illegal hill-cutting, the mobile court led by Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) Magistrate Mohammad Munir Chowdhury on Monday found three instances of devouring hills causing degradation of the environment at Nasiaghona of Koibalyadham in the port city's Uttar Pahartali and Lake City Housing Project areas, both under Khulshi Police Station. The magistrate instantly ordered DoE Director Mosharraf Hossain to file cases against Chittagong City Corporation (CCC) and Concord Group for cutting and razing hills for their Lake City Housing and Water Park projects. The court found the Concord Group, which had built an amusement park at Foy's Lake, created a water-reservoir for its Water Park by levelling a part of a hill adjoining Lake City Housing. -The Daily Star, June 20.

Mohiuddin to apply to SC for a delayed leave to appeal
AKM Mohiuddin Ahmed, a condemned killer of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family, will apply to the Supreme Court for allowing him to submit a delayed leave to appeal against the High Court (HC) verdict that upheld his death sentence awarded by the trial court. However, the ex-army major will have to submit a written explanation along with his application mentioning why he had failed to appeal within the stipulated timeframe of 30 days after the High Court verdict. If the Supreme Court allows it, Mohiuddin will have to submit his leave to appeal through the jail authorities. A trial court on November 8, 1998 sentenced him to death along with 14 other former and dismissed army men for killing Bangabandhu and 26 others. The High Court on April 30, 2001 upheld the punishment of 12. Mohiuddin was sent back to the country on Monday from the United States after he lost a legal battle for asylum there. Upon arrival, he was sent to condemned cell at Dhaka Central Jail. "Mohiuddin expressed his willingness to appeal to the Supreme Court," Deputy Inspector General (Prisons) Major Shamsul Haider Siddique told The Daily Star. -The Daily Star, June 20.

EC proposal to stop nomination business
The Election Commission (EC) drafted a new proposal to curtail the absolute power of political parties' parliamentary boards to nominate party candidates for parliamentary election in a bid to stop reported unbridled nomination business. According to the proposal, members of the local unit of a registered political party will primarily elect through secret ballots two or more tentative candidates for each parliamentary area and the party's central parliamentary board will choose from the list a candidate for the constituency. Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Sakhawat Hossain revealed this while talking to reporters at his office. At present, the political parties' parliamentary boards composed of party chiefs and some other top leaders enjoy absolute power to choose the candidates to contest in the parliamentary election and grass- roots level leaders have little to say in the process. Using this power, the major political parties, especially the BNP and Awami League reportedly made huge amounts of money by selling party nominations to businessmen and black money holders during the previous parliamentary elections, while the dedicated leaders were ignored in many cases. -The Daily Star, June 18.

Four more PSC members quit on 'personal grounds'
Four more members of the Public Service Commission (PSC) resigned, citing personal reasons. They--AKM Shahadat Hossain Mandal, M Anwarul Haq, Latifur Rahman, and M Fazlul Haq-- tendered their resignations to President Iajuddin Ahmed. Earlier, Ashraful Islam Chowdhury who was the head of the 27th Bangladesh Civil Service (BCS) exams, stood down mentioning the same reason. PSC Chairman Saadat Hussain said the five have resigned on personal grounds. The military-backed administration decided to reform the PSC, a quasi-judicial body mandated by the constitution to oversee recruitment, regularisation and promotion of the civil servants, following allegations of widespread irregularities in its functioning. It cancelled the viva voce of the 27th BCS on May 30 and directed the PSC to hold the test afresh. Earlier, former cabinet secretary Saadat Hussain took the helm of the commission on May 9, a day after expiry of ex-PSC boss Zinnatun Nesa Tahmida's tenure. Mahfuzur Rahman, another member, resigned after he was declared a corrupt suspect by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on -The Daily Star, June 18.

No initiative yet to bring back killers
There has been no government move for bringing back the convicted killers of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman absconding abroad, the issue overlooked by most of the previous governments. The taskforce formed in 1999 during the Awami League (AL) rule to have the killers extradited was dissolved after the BNP-Jamaat led coalition took office in 2001. During its five-year rule till 2006, the BNP-Jamaat government did not make any efforts in this regard. Many believe that both BNP and Jamaat are beneficiaries of the killing. Even the caretaker government did not take any steps in the last five months in this regard. It also did not take any action to bring back Mohiuddin Ahmed, one of the convicted killers who returned home yesterday as the US government rejected his appeal for political asylum there and deported him. "There is no government role in the process of Mohiuddin's return. He is forced to come back as he was deported by the United States government," a government source said. The foreign and home ministries are now tight-lipped about the other convicted killers of Bangabandhu. The foreign ministry has no official information on the whereabouts of the killers. -The Daily Star, June 19.

NGOs want EC to relax rules for their officials to contest polls
Leaders of non-government organisations (NGO) at a meeting with the Election Commission (EC) opposed its draft proposal imposing restriction on NGO officials to contest parliamentary election within three years of their retirement. A delegation of the Federation of NGOs in Bangladesh, a platform of about 1,000 NGOs, asked the EC to reconsider the proposal. It also opposed another proposal that allows an NGO to donate funds to political parties. In its draft proposals for electoral reforms, the EC said a person shall be disqualified from being elected as and from being a member of parliament if he has resigned or retired or he is terminated as an official or employee of a non-government organisation that receives donation or fund from any foreign country, unless three years elapsed since his resignation, retirement or termination. The same provision is also applicable to government officials. At the meeting with the EC, the NGO leaders argued that they don't have any scope to influence the election process while in service. Government officials may have such scope, they said. "We think the proposal is not reasonable. We requested the Election Commission to reconsider it," Chairman of the federation and head of the delegation Dr Mohammad Ibrahim told reporters later. -June 19, The Daily Star.

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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