A total of 61 laws has been passed last year by the Jatiyo Sangsad (National Parliament) in Bangladesh regulating different sectors such as health, education, press and media, sports, economic development and investment, agriculture and rural development, environmental protection, consumer rights, narcotics control, public services, electricity, water, seeds, police and armed forces, and so on. In this write-up, some of the major Acts of Parliament are summarily discussed for the readers of The Daily Star.
The Bangladesh Industrial Enterprises (Nationalisation) Act 2018
With the introduction of this Act, every corporation has to establish their head offices in Dhaka. A Chairperson is said to form a board of directors consisting of six directors appointed by the government. The Board of Directors are empowered to perform all the functions of the corporation and exercise all its powers.
The One Stop Service Act 2018
The law was enacted aiming to ensure business-friendly regulations and increase foreign investment. As the law has been enacted, investors will get entire services like project clearance, work permit, visa recommendation, import and export permits, building plan approval, wiring and plumbing plan approval, NOC for foreign loan, local sale and purchase services, utility connection approval, TIN registration, VAT registration, fire clearance and boiler registration at one place.
The Wage Earners Welfare Board Act 2018
This law has been enacted in order to establish the Wage Earners Welfare Board and ensure the security and welfare of the expatriates and their families in line with the international conventions and treaties ratified by Bangladesh. The Act contains a special provision for the benefit of the female wage earners.
The Chief of Defence Services (Appointment, Salary, Remuneration and other benefits) Act 2018
According to Article 62 of the Constitution, the Parliament has enacted this law to regulate appointment, remuneration and benefits of the Chief of each of the defence services. The law contains a provision that removes all legal bars to appoint a former Chief of any of the defence services in any office of profit under the Constitution.
The Dowry Prohibition Act 2018
This Act, repealing the earlier Act of 1980, contains a provision that seeks to prevent filing of false cases by prescribing a punishment of maximum five-year imprisonment or a fine of maximum BDT 50,000 or both. The revised Act has made the offences under it cognizable, non-bailable and compoundable.
The Digital Security Act 2018
Amidst the fear and worries concerning the threat to freedom of expression, criticism from human rights organisations, media outlets against several sections of the Bill, the aforesaid Act empowers the police to search, confiscate or make arrests without a warrant. According to section 32, if a person commits any crime or assists anyone in committing crimes under the Official Secrets Act of 1923, through computer, digital device, computer network, digital network or any other electronic medium, he or she may face a maximum 14-year imprisonment or a fine of BDT 25 lakh or both. The law prescribes a seven-year imprisonment or a fine of BDT 5 lakh or both if anyone is found to have deliberately published or broadcast something on a website or in electronic form which can spread hatred and create enmity among different groups.
The Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB) Act 2018
The Act has been made for the establishment of an institute which will work for the development and advancement of professional journalism, research and publication. One of the important functions of the Institute is to formulate policies related to media and journalism.
The Road Transport Act 2018
This law has been enacted following the movement carried out by mostly the school going kids after the death of two high-school students in Dhaka upon getting struck by a bus. The new law provides a maximum sentence of 5 years in jail or a fine of BDT 5 lakh or both, if anybody kills or injures someone seriously by rash and negligent driving. It sets the education qualification of not below eighth grade for the drivers. A person must be at least 18 to get a driving license and 21 to get a professional license. The Act seeks to draw a line between “negligent” killings and “intentional” killings yielding yet another area of criticism.
The Narcotics Products Control Act 2018
This Act has repealed the Narcotics Products Control Act 1992 and made new provisions in order to ensure the control of narcotics, the reduction of supply and demand, abuse and smuggling, and the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.
The Mental Health Act 2018
Repealing the Lunacy Act 1912, the Mental Health Act 2018 has been made in order to provide health care to the individuals affected with mental health problems and to ensure their safety and dignity, property rights, rehabilitation and overall welfare.
The Public Services Act 2018
The Act has been made, among others, to consolidate and reconstruct the working departments of the Republic, to integrate and determine the employment of employees in the service of the Republic, and to determine and control their working conditions. Section 25 reminds the government servants that they have a duty to provide public services to the citizens in due time. Section 41 requires taking prior approval of the government or the employing authority before arresting a government servant in connection with a criminal case filed in relation to the duty of the government servant.
Making Dawrae Hadith (Takmil) Certificate in Qawmi Madrasa Equivalent to Master's Degree (Islamic Studies and Arabic) Act 2018
Under this law, there would be a board named “Al-Haiyatul Ulia Lil-Jamiatil Qawmia Bangladesh”; integrating the existing six Qawmi madrasa education boards. The board will prepare syllabus, question papers, conduct examinations and award certificates among the Qawmi students. Besides, the status of postgraduate degree will be effective for the madrasas which would be registered under the board.
The Electricity Act 2018
With a view to ensuring better supply and progressively meeting the demand of electrical energy throughout the country, the Electricity Act 2018 has been enacted repealing the Electricity Act 1910. The new law introduces special service through special line subject to payment of special fees. The principles of collective as well as individual accountability have also been incorporated in the new law.
The Textile Act 2018
As per this law a directorate will be formed with a director general with supervisory powers. The directorate's officers will have the responsibility to inspect the quality of textile products. The law mainly aims to maintain the quality of textile products.
Apart from these laws, some Ordinances previously declared invalid by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh in 5th and 7th Constitutional Amendment cases have been considered necessary and revised into new laws last year after receiving necessary opinion of all the stakeholders and all concerned ministries and divisions.
The writers work with Law Desk, The Daily Star.