Ruling Awami League lawmaker Kamal Ahmed Majumder has abolished his controversial quasi-judicial body, Samajik Salish Committee, in the wake of recent media reports on the matter.
In a “special notice” issued on Thursday, the lawmaker stopped all activities of the committee and also those of the Unnayan O Parishkar-Parichchhanna Committee, another platform he had floated to look after development activities in his constituency.
“It is to notify the residents of Dhaka-15 constituency that all activities of Samajik Salish Committee and Unnayan and Parishkar-Parichchhanna Committee, formed under my office, have been stopped,” stated the notice written on the legislator's letterhead pad and signed by him.
“From now on, it is requested that if any person uses the name of the committee, s/he should be handed over to the law enforcement agencies,” it added.
The notice was yesterday found pasted on the gate of the lawmaker's political office in Mirpur-7, which had been used as the salish committee office as well.
Some national dailies recently reported that the committee was dealing with disputes in violation of legal provisions.
The five-member committee, composed of Kamal's close associates, including two local AL leaders, held proceedings on Saturdays.
Committee members said many people came to its office for proceedings yesterday, but they were asked to go to court to seek justice.
Abdul Wahab, convener of the committee, said the lawmaker had made the decision following media reports which had “tarnished his image.”
Upon receiving a complaint, the committee would summon the accused to appear before it. If the accused did not comply, the committee would send letters several times.
“After hearing both the parties, the committee tried to settle disputes through negotiations. It had no bias,” claimed committee member MA Gafur.
The body mostly handled land related disputes and also problems with utility supplies, he added.
Kamal Majumder had formed the body in 1996 soon after the AL assumed power and he became a lawmaker for the first time. It remained inoperative during the tenures of the BNP and the subsequent caretaker governments, but resumed work in 2009 with the AL back in power.
Although the MP was not a member of the committee, he apparently kept its executive power in his own hands. The lawmaker would receive written complaints first from local people. After scrutinising those, he would forward some of the written complaints to the committee, “requesting” it to take necessary steps.
Talking to The Daily Star on Monday, the legislator said, “As I'm an MP, many people came to me seeking justice in their disputes with others. I formed the committee to solve their problems.”
Eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik said such exercise of power by the lawmaker is beyond his jurisdiction as neither the committee nor the MP has the legal sanction to run such a body.
“They had been operating it in a feudal fashion…. There are separate laws and bodies for arbitration in village and municipality areas. In metropolises like Dhaka, it's the duty of ward councillors to hold arbitrations,” he pointed out.
Since 2009, the committee has dealt with 278 disputes and given around 250 verdicts, according to the legislator.
The Dhaka-15 constituency covers the areas of wards 4, 13, 14 and 16 of Dhaka (north) City Corporation.