Ashraf for curtailed JS tenure | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 04, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 04, 2009

Ashraf for curtailed JS tenure

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam believes the five-year tenure of parliament and local government bodies is too long and should be shortened.
"I think the tenure of local government bodies should be three-year. The five-year duration of parliament is also long," Ashraf said yesterday, but he did not suggest any timeframe for parliament.
The minister also expressed his preference for a jury system over the existing judicial system.
He was talking to reporters after inaugurating a consultation workshop on selecting union parishads for the "Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh" project organised jointly by his ministry and UNDP.
Citing examples of America, Ashraf said, "Only a few countries in the world, including some of our neighbouring countries, have a five-year-long tenure for parliament."
At the inaugural ceremony the LGRD minister expressed hope that under the project with tenure up to December 2013 they would be able to build the local government bodies in a way that no military rule can use them for political purpose.
He said military rulers in 1958 and during 1975-1991 used the local government bodies, especially the upazila parishads, to perpetuate their illegitimate rules.
He said the government is closely observing the functioning of upazila parishads and will bring necessary changes after a year. "If needed, we will change the law to build a strong and independent local government," the minister said.
On his preference for the jury system, Ashraf later told reporters, "Judgment by a single judge cannot be safe in any country."
It would be a better and safe judicial system if there were at least three judges, a magistrate and two justices of peace to prepare the verdict in a trial, he said.
He also said it would be revolutionary for the judicial system of the country if the village courts were run properly on the basis of the Village Courts Act 2006.
LGRD State Minister Jahangir Kabir Nanak said the project will build the capacity of the local government representatives and community members, especially women, for improving access to justice for disadvantaged and marginalised groups.
Abul Kalam Azad, joint secretary (administration) and national project director of the project, said the $14,986 million scheme jointly funded by the government, the European Commission and UNDP would be implemented in 500 union parishads.
Monzur Hossain, LGRD secretary, Robert Juhkam, resident representatives (ai) of UNDP Bangladesh, and Dr Jean-Jacques Lauture of the European Commission delegation to Bangladesh also spoke at the inaugural ceremony.
BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain said Awami League can do 'everything' as the majority party in parliament, but it must consult other political parties regarding whatever it wants to do.
"I cannot understand why he [Syed Ashraf] is suddenly advocating shortening of tenure of the House and local government bodies. As majority party, it can do everything except making a woman man," he said when asked about Ashraf's observation.
It is a 'good decision', Delwar said when asked about Monday's cabinet approval of a proposal to amend the Representation of the People Order making way for extending the time limit for submission of political parties' constitutions to the Election Commission.
BNP had earlier applied to the EC to extend the time limit till January 31.
On the House team that was supposed to visit Tipaimukh dam site in India, Delwar said, "They (team) have returned empty handed. But they should have stayed (in India) a few more days to visit the project area."
The team should now inform people 'what it has brought for them," he added.

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