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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: 67
May 10 , 2008

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ACC presses Niko charges against Hasina
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) pressed charges against detained former premier Sheikh Hasina and eight others in connection with a case involving gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko Resources Limited. According to the charge sheet Hasina, also the chief of Awami League, and other co-accused in collaboration with each other awarded gas extraction work at Chhatak, Kamta and Feni gas fields to Niko by cheating to gain personal financial benefit. It also mentions that the work was given to Niko in an illegal way without floating tender, allowing it to extract 1794 billion cubic feet (bcf) gas from a reservation of 2,834 bcf, which caused the country a loss of Tk 13,630.50 crore considering the then price of each million-cubic-feet gas at Tk 75.9783. The ACC also alleges that the accused cheated and abused power by showing the east part of Chhatak gas field--explored by Bangladesh but yet to be extracted--as marginal and abandoned. Earlier on May 5, the ACC submitted charge sheets against another detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia and 10 others for abuse of power and graft in awarding Niko another deal.-- The Daily Star, May 08, 2008.

Arrest warrant against fugitives
A Dhaka court issued arrest warrants against former BNP lawmaker Qazi Saleemul Haq, Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, his two sons and the personal secretary to detained BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahman in connection with the Tk 21 crore bribery case. Meanwhile, the same court also issued arrest warrants against former principal secretary to the prime minister's office Kamal Uddin Siddique and four others in connection with the case for abuse of power and corruption in awarding a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko. - The Daily Star, May 08, 2008.

Khaleda charged with Niko graft
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) pressed charges against detained former prime minister Khaleda Zia and 10 others for abuse of power and graft in awarding a gas exploration and extraction deal to Canadian company Niko. This is the first time formal charges have been laid against Khaleda since her arrest on September 3 last year. Former law minister Moudud Ahmed and former state minister for energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain are among the other charge-sheeted accused. Since being disqualified by the government in the second-round block bidding for oil and gas exploration in 1997, Niko had been relentless in efforts to enter the country's energy scene through the backdoor. Though the then energy secretary Tawfiq-e-Elahi Chowdhury promoted a joint venture deal between the Canadian company and Bapex, the AL government (1996-2001) could not okay it in absence of necessary legal framework. During the tenure of BNP-led alliance government that came to power in 2001, Niko successfully pushed for the deal to be closed through ruling party high-ups and its legal adviser Moudud Ahmed, then the law minister. -The Daily Star, May 07, 2008.

EC skips specific date for polls
The Election Commission (EC) informed the High Court (HC) through an affidavit that the much-awaited parliamentary election will be held by December this year, but it did not specify any date for the poll. "In accordance with the roadmap, and in order to hold a free, fair and acceptable election within December 2008, the Election Commission will announce the date for the election in due course," the EC told the HC through an affidavit replying to a query of the court. The HC on April 30 asked the commission to inform the court through an affidavit when it will have the voter list ready and when will it hold the next parliamentary election. -The Daily Star, May 07, 2008.

Legal notice served on BA claiming £1m in damages
Former Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina is seeking a million pounds in damages from British Airways for not letting her board a plane home. Hasina's lawyers served a legal notice on British Airways (BA) after the airline refused to let her board the April 23 flight to Dhaka, her secretary told AFP. "BA did not give her a boarding pass, citing security reasons. It caused her immense mental stress and agony," Abdus Sobhan Golap said from London. "We are seeking a million pounds (two million dollars) in damages," he said, adding that BA has two weeks to reply to the notice. -The Daily Star, May 06, 2008.

Demand to ensure equal rights
Speakers at a cultural function held recently at Khagrachhari said that most of the indigenous communities lived in Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). They urged the government to guard their cultural heritage by saving their languages, and by ensuring their equal rights in CHT.

Khagrachhari Hill District Council (KHDC) Chairman Monindra Lal Tripura said it is true that indigenous people are still facing some discrimination in every sector, including education and employment. However, he said, he hoped that the government will ensure the rights and privileges of these people.

Taking part in the discussion were Khagrachhari Region Commander Kamrujjaman, Deputy Commissioner of Khagrachhari Mohammad Shahadat Hossain, Khagrachhari Hill District Council (KHDC) Monindra Lal Tripura, Chief Executive of KHDC Sayed M.A.Hashim, KHDC Member Ruhity Karbari, Animesh Dewan Nandith, Sanu Mong Marma and Abu Baqar Siddique. - Our Correspondent, Khagrachhari, The Daily Star, May 08, 2008.

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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