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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: 83
August 30 , 2008

This week's issue:
Human Rights analysis
Reviewing the views
Fact file
Human Rights Monitor
Law campaign
Law Amusements
Law Lexicon
Law Week

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Law week

Khaleda, Nizami, Tarique, SQ Chy get HC bail
The High Court (HC) granted a four-month ad interim bail to detained BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman in the "Zia Orphanage Trust" fund embezzlement case filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). The HC granted anticipatory bail to Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Motiur Rahman Nizami in the Barapukuria coalmine corruption case until the trial court concerned accepts the charge sheet of the Barapukuria coalmine corruption case.

The HC also granted ad interim bail to Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, former parliamentary affairs adviser to former prime minister Khaleda Zia, and Giasuddin Al Mamun, friend of Tarique Rahman, in separate criminal cases. Hearing the petitions, an HC bench comprised of Justice Sharif Uddin Chaklader and Justice Md Emdadul Haque Azad issued separate rules upon the government to explain as to why the petitioners should not be granted regular bail. -The Daily Star, August 27, 2008.

High Court Division issued rule for safe migration of workers
On 25 August 2008 the High Court Division of the Supreme Court issued a rule nisi upon the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Expatriate Welfare, Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) and Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) to show cause as to why the role of the concerned ministries to ensure safe migration of workers shall not be considered as a failure to discharge their duty and as to why the respondents shall not be directed to ensure safe manpower export. A Division Bench comprising Justice Syed Mahmood Hossain and Justice Farid Ahammad issued the rule in a writ petition (no. 6409/ 2008) filed by human rights organisation Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK), IMA (International Migrants' Alliance) Research Foundation and three victim workers repatriated from Malaysia filed the writ application.

Three workers; named Md Sirajul Islam, Abu Hanif Hawladar and Anamul Haque Talukdar went to Malaysia through the recruiting agencies, Ardent International Ltd. and Al-Fatiha Overseas in 2007. On their arrival in Malaysia, the local agents seized their passports from them and also from more than hundred other Bangladeshi workers. Then they confined them all in a warehouse for about five months. Later, they were handed over to another company and the overseas agents misappropriated their salary. As the affected Bangladeshi workers moved to the Malaysian court claiming their wages, the court declared their work permits fake. The workers, including the three petitioners then went to the Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia asking for their help. But the High Commission did not provided them with any kind of assistance. Finding no other alternative, the helpless Bangladeshi workers took shelter under an over bridge near the Bangladesh High Commission at Kualalampur. They also contacted with their respective recruiting agencies in Bangladesh. But they also did not respond. Finally, the Bangladeshi workers, including the three petitioners, returned home with the aid of IMA Research Foundation, one of the petitioners in the said writ petition. -Press Release.

12 more bigwigs get HC bail
The High Court (HC) granted bail to 12 people including nine politicians in separate cases filed by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), police and individuals. Responding to separate bail petitions filed by the accused, two division benches of the HC granted anticipatory and ad interim bail. The benches also issued separate rules upon the government to explain as to why the petitioners should not be granted regular bail and the proceedings against them should not be quashed.

Meanwhile, BNP chief Khaleda Zia filed a petition with the HC for bail in the "Zia Orphanage Trust" fund embezzlement case. The people who were granted bail include former information minister M Shamsul Islam and former agriculture minister MK Anwar, BNP's Senior Joint Secretary General Tarique Rahaman, his close friend and controversial businessman Giasuddin Al Mamun, former BNP state minister Barkat Ullah Bulu, former BNP deputy minister Asadul Habib Dulu and former BNP lawmakers Shahidul Islam Master, Mashiur Rahman and Abul Khair Bhuiyan and former Awami League lawmaker Ali Reza Raju. -The Daily Star, August 26, 2008.

EC scrambles to resolve its re-demarcation issue
The Election Commission (EC) is urgently trying to get out of the tight spot it finds itself in after a High Court (HC) ruling stayed for three months the effectiveness of a gazette notification on the recent redemarcation of constituencies. The rush is prompted by the fact that the Supreme Court is set to go on vacation for a month and a half after Thursday.

Returning from vacation, the court will resume on October 12, while the EC plans to announce the parliamentary election schedule by the end of October or early November, for holding the poll in the third week of December. Legal experts and EC officials said the commission might face difficulties in proceeding with its plans if the issue is not resolved soon, as it will have to finish the gigantic task of preparations before the poll. -The Daily Star, August 25, 2008.

Bibiyana power tender may be cancelled
The Bibiyana 450 megawatt power project tender is likely to be cancelled as the law ministry believes bid documents of the tender's lone bidder are so flawed that these lack legal merit for evaluation.

The power ministry had earlier made an unusual request to the law ministry to give its opinion on a condition imposed by Powertek Consortium of Malaysia and South Korea. The law ministry observed that imposing such a condition is a material deviation.

The bid originally participated by several companies finally drew only one offer because of poor handling of the tender by the Power Cell and the role of its tender consultant -- International Finance Corporation (IFC) -- that controversially disqualified the local Summit group. The Power Cell so far did not succeed in completing any large power project tender except that for Haripur 360 MW AES project in 1998. And till date it completed tenders for some small and rental power projects, most of which were awarded to incompetent and wrong bidders.

The Bibiyana tender initially attracted pre-qualification bids from AES, Chevron, Powertek, Kepco, Summit and Malaysian YTL late last year. Soon after the pre-qualification, Powertek and Kepco announced its consortium and AES announced its withdrawal. Finally, when the bid submission date came, Powertek appeared as the lone bidder. -The Daily Star, August 23, 2008.

Manpower brokers in big hundi racket buy job demands
Amid lax management in the overseas sector, recruiting agencies and manpower brokers smuggle about Tk 8,000 crore every year in the form of hundi to buy visas or job demands for Bangladeshi workers. Such illegal transactions spawn enormous malpractices forcing a large part of low-skilled workers into penury. But the government measures fail miserably in negotiating with labourer receiving countries to check frauds.

In the '80s, the employers used to bear the expenditure to hire workers from the country. But later a syndicate of visa traders enticed the employers to take cheaply paid workers from them in exchange of commission, creating dozens of ways to exploit the workers. The key villain behind the workers' woes is a syndicate of local and international brokers, who jointly exploit the nation's main remittance earners. Bangladesh earned around Tk 55,000-crore remittance in 2007-08 fiscal year from around 60 lakh expatriates. -The Daily Star, August 27, 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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