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March 21, 2004 

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Your Advocate

This week your advocate is M. Moazzam Husain of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. His professional interests include civil law, criminal law and constitutional law.

Q: My father lived with my 2nd eldest brother in his own house in a small district town. Since after his retirement, his age was 72 but hardly he used to fell sick. But suddenly he fell sick & caught by pneumonia & his illness turned into severe condition and he died. However, my brother did not look after him. He neither took him to the doctor nor called in a doctor for my brother as my brother had a strain relation with my father. This originated from my brother's marriage as he wanted more money. Moreover, he wanted the house including its adjacent land property. However, my father did not agree. As a result, he became an eyesore of my brother and his wife. My father lived with them in the same house but he had no speaking terms with them and had separate arrangement for food. We requested him to come & stay with anyone of us in Dhaka, but he refused to do so on the plea that my brother will grab my house anyhow. He said that he is not going to give any more money as have gave him enough money for his business till his being established. Our mother died just before one year of our father's death. Our mother kept many valuable documents pertaining to the land property and some gold ornaments worth of Taka 30 lakhs. It is mentionable that during my mother's life time my brother was driven out from that house but being so cunning on the plea of our mother's death he came to that house and also promised to look after our old father. Our father died due to his illness as I have mentioned above. One important thing to mention here, one of our brothers died suddenly in that house few years ago while our father came to Dhaka. As a normal phenomena of our country, when our parents die, we cry, praise and repent for them. After that, the most vital point came to be discussed about property distribution. When this started, I left the home in same dress and went straight to my job station. It is near 9 years I did not keep any connection with any of my relatives or siblings. Later I came to know that all the documents and ornaments could not be found in that house. Our brother who lived there was asked about that but he said he does not know. However, his wife said that one night when no one was at home, a group of masked robber intruded and broke some locked almiras and suitcases, which belongs to our parents. When she was asked that why she did not go for GD in the police station, she told that against whom she would do that as she did not know them. By knowing all this, we tried to lodge a GD about the robbery. However, the police did not take it for GD and commented that why we were dragging our brother and his wife in this matter.These circumstances are mysterious and doubtful. I strongly believe that some how my brother and his wife killed my father by suffocation as my father was ill and grabbed all the documents and gold ornaments. Even my other brother's death is not beyond doubtful. My questions are, (a) How can we recover the lost documents? (b) Can we legally convict / blame our brother on doubt of murdering? (c) Why the local police is not taking any GD regarding this matter and what could be done? (d) Since a long time has passed is there any time Barrier for lodging any case? (e) Can my brother claim any property that is left by our parents after what he had done to them? As a son, he did not carry out his duties towards his own parents. So, how he can claim his parents property? Is it not inhumanity? Please advice in legal aspect.

S. K. Sikder, 10/4 Begum Rokeya Soroni, Dhaka.

Your Advocate: Your case is unfortunate. All the mental sufferings inflicted on you are not redressable in law. Far less, law deals only with the defined categories of problems of human life. There is still serious limitations of law in its applications. Applications again depend on different agencies comprised of its members differing in skill, experience and commitment. Upon these basic premises let me proceed to address your problems.

As to your first question, I am constrained to say from my experience that the lost documents are no more likely to be recovered after so many years. Moreover police, as you have indicated, was found reluctant to interfere with the matter. Still you can file a petition case in the Court of Magistrate over the suspected theft in respect of the documents explaining the delay and police inaction. Upon your petition a case would be registered and as of practice the petition would be sent to the local police station for treating the same as an FIR. Thus police case would be started and investigations will follow. So you can try your luck in this way. If your luck favours documents may be recovered and the criminals may be brought to justice. Nothing more auspicious can be said at this stage.

As to the second question I adopt the same reply. The third question is about police inaction. It is a giant question that finds expressions every day in newspapers, seminars, meetings, public gatherings etc. I have really nothing new to add. Writ petitions may be moved against police inactions and if there is a fit case High Court Division may give appropriate directions to the police authority. But your case is not as serious as that because you did not properly pursue your case in the PS and Magistrate court level and in fact chose to remain silent over the matter for long years. To your fourth question the reply is- mere delay in lodging the complaint/FIR is not any bar in initiating any criminal proceedings. If there is prospect of detection of criminals, recovery of stolen property and bringing the offenders to justice, that is, prospect of success cases may be taken and proceeded with.

As for the right of your suspected brother to inherit your father's property the reply is- he will inherit in accordance with law. Because, mere suspicion of the kind you have indicated does not absolve any one from inheriting his parents' property.

Corresponding Law Desk
Please send your mails, queries, and opinions to: Law Desk, The Daily Star 19 Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215; telephone 8124944, 8124955, 8124966; fax 8125155, 8126154; email <dslawdesk@yahoo.co.uk>

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