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November 23, 2003 

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4 months more to separate judiciary

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has granted the government another four months for implementation of a 12-point directive on separation of the judiciary from the executive. This is for the 15th time the time has been extended. The 15th extension came after the government filed a petition on 25 September. The Appellate Division full bench of Chief Justice KM Hasan, Justice Ruhul Amin, Justice Mohammed Fazlul Karim, Justice Syed JR Muddassir Husain, Justice Hamidul Haque and Justice Tafazzul Islam allowed the time. -Law Desk.

JS body brings graft charge against BIWTC

A parliamentary standing committee has levelled allegation of corruption against Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation (BIWTC) in the construction of three passenger vessels by amending tender at the last moment. The parliamentary standing committee on the shipping ministry asked the shipping ministry to adjourn the entire tender process for a month until the committee resolves the issue. The committee also asked the ministry to come up with all documents at its December 6 meeting to clarify the amendment to the tender for building three 900-passenger capacity vessels. Member of the Committee, Abul Hossain Khan MP raised the allegation of corruption in the tender process. He said the BIWTC authorities made the amendment just four days before the deadline for dropping bids ended. He alleged that the authorities did it to provide benefits for a special quarter he alleged. - Daily Star, 16 November.

Judge in Rob murder case embarrassed

The trial of the murder of Awami League mayoral candidate SMA Rob has been adjourned as the judge felt embarrassed. He has suggested that the case be tried by the High Court or any other competent court after its withdrawal from the Speedy Trial Tribunal. The judge felt embarrassed when some supporters of the slain Awami League leader brought out a procession and raised slogans in the court premises during the trial. The procession was brought out to protest the arrest of slain AL leader's wife Altafunnesa and his son Mushfiqur Rahman Russell for failing to appear before court as prosecution witnesses even after receiving the summons on the dates of the hearings. They were arrested on a non-bailable warrant issued by Judge Abdus Samad. They were however released immediately after the judge adjourned the hearing feeling embarrassed. SMA Rob was gunned down on 11 August in 2000 in front of his residence in Sonadanga residential area. The case was transferred to the Speedy Trial Tribunal on August 20 this year. -Janakantha, 14 November.

713 foreigners still in jail after serving terms

A total of 713 foreigners are still languishing in jails although they have already served their jail terms. In addition, 734 foreigners are in the jails -- 258 of them are convicts and the rest are under-trial prisoners. The figures were revealed at the eighth meeting of the cabinet committee on jail reforms. Law Minister Moudud Ahmed presided over the meeting. The Foreign Office has been asked to take initiatives to send the foreign prisoners who have completed their sentences to their countries. -Daily Star, 13 November.

Delay in anti-graft body again

The Jatiya Sangsad gave a parliamentary standing committee another three months to submit its report on the independent anti-corruption commission bill to parliament. Khandkar Mahbub Uddin Ahmed, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the law, justice and parliamentary affairs ministry sought time from parliament for scrutinising the much-talked-about bill. The law ministry plans to pass the bill in the next session of parliament, scheduled for January 2004. The bill was placed before parliament on 10 July and sent to the committee for submitting a report after scrutinising it within 15 days. After placing of the bill before parliament, criticism mounted against the inclusion of two ministers on the selection body of the proposed commission. The law minister declared that the two ministers would be excluded from the six-member selection committee.- Law Desk.

Contempt proceedings against judge stayed

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has stayed the contempt proceedings against District and Sessions Judge of Feni Mohammad Firoj Alam for two months. Chamber Judge Syed J R Muddassir Husain stayed the contempt proceedings that was drawn by High Court Division Judge Syed Amirul Islam on October 29. Justice Islam alleged that he made a visit to Feni on October 22 and was expecting Firoj Alam or his representatives to receive him at the rail station. He said although he informed Alam beforehand about his visit, no-one turned up at the station. Such a disregard prompted Justice Islam to issue a contempt rule on October 29 and direct District Judge Alam and his Nazir and Nayeb Nazir to appear before the High Court on November 12. On November 12, District Judge Alam appeared before court and apologised verbally for failing to receive Justice Islam in Feni. The court however asked him to apologise in writing. -Daily Star, 17 November.

EC plans to update voters' roll

The Election Commission has instructed its field-level officers to upgrade the voters' roll before the municipal elections scheduled to be held in the middle of next year. The voters in their respective constituencies have to fill the voter's forms by January 15, 2004. It also asked the field officials to modify the existing voters' list through scrutiny. The Election Commission has also decided to extend the punishment for giving false statements in preparing the voters' list and casting false votes. According to the existing Act, if such anomalies are found, one can be jailed for six months or fined or both. The Election Commission has suggested a jail term of five years for the offences. -New Age, 18 November.

Amendments to Bar Council Order challenged

The High Court has issued a rule asking the government to show cause in three weeks why the amendments to the Bar Council Order should not be declared illegal. The rule came upon a writ filed by two advocates challenging the amendments made in September to the Bar Council Order 1972. The amendments barred election to the Bar Council of anyone for two consecutive terms. These provide for mandatory submission of its annual audit report for scrutiny to the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee and inclusion of Supreme Court judges in the enrolment committee. -Prothom Alo, 19 November.

Case against DGFI for rape attempt

An attempted rape case has filed against a deputy director (DD) in-charge of the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) Mr. Mostafa and his office assistant with the Court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Dhaka on 18 December. Mosammet Sheuli Akhter, an information assistant at the Caab, alleged at about 8:30am on November 13, Mostafa asked her to meet him at his office room. But she did not go there and was waiting at the passengers service desk. After a while, Mostafa came there, frisked her and took her duty pass away. Later, she went to his office at around 10:00am to get her duty pass back. The DD did not return it, instead he made an attempt to violate her. She filed the case with the magistrate court as the police refused to record it. After hearing, Metropolitan Magistrate Mamun-Al-Rashid took the case into cognizance and directed the officer-in-charge of Airport Police Station to register the complaint as first information report. -Law desk.

216 judges' posts vacant

Currently sometwo hundred and sixteen judge's posts are vacant in the country. The posts remained vacant due to retirement, promotion and non-recruitment of judges for long. Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Moudud Ahmed revealed this in the parliament., The minister told that the government took up a plan to appoint new judges to the vacant posts. The minister also told that construction and expansion works of judge's courts in 22 districts are on in full swing. He also told that the works of the court buildings have been taken under the Legal and Judiciary Capacity Building Project. Daily Star, 19 November.

IGP ordered to apologise by Jan 5

A High Court (HC) Division Bench has ordered Inspector General of Police (IGP) Shahudul Haque to file a formal petition tendering unqualified apology to the court by 5 January next year for his contemptuous remarks. The bench comprising justices MA Aziz and Syed Refaat Ahmed granted the time to the IGP. Advocate Khan Saifur Rahman, the IGP's counsel, told court that the petitioner has apologised to court for making contemptuous remarks in a clarification sent to High Court on the contempt of court charges against five police sergeants. Khan said the petitioner needs time to prepare a formal apology. Earlier, the HC bench issued a suo moto rule on the IGP asking him to explain why proceedings for contempt of court should not be drawn against him. It also ordered him to appear before court. -Prothom Alo, 16 November.

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