All-party body to probe Sircar graft | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 20, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 20, 2009

All-party body to probe Sircar graft

Report in a month; expenditures of JS secretariat since 1972 also to be audited

Speaker Abdul Hamid yesterday constituted an all-party parliamentary body to probe widespread allegations of financial anomalies, misuse of power and wastage of public money against previous speaker Jamiruddin Sircar.
First in the history of parliament in Bangladesh, the 11-member committee led by Awami League lawmaker Fazle Rabbi Mia will also investigate allegations of corruption against officials of the Parliament Secretariat.
The speaker also informed the House that the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) would soon send a special team to audit all expenditures of the Parliament Secretariat since 1972.
The parliamentary probe body was asked to submit its report to parliament within a month. Findings of the audit report will also be placed before the House.
"Ensuring transparency and accountability of the government is one of the tasks of parliament. To achieve this goal, the Parliament Secretariat must be kept away from corruption," Speaker Hamid said, forming the parliamentary body last night in parliament.
The committee was also assigned to investigate allegations, if any, against Hamid during his tenure as the speaker for three and a half months during the seventh parliament in 2001.
"I willingly put myself under the jurisdiction of the parliamentary body," the speaker said.
The probe body was formed in consultation with Prime Minister and Leader of the House Sheikh Hasina in the face of growing demands from the treasury bench lawmakers for investigating allegations of unbridled corruption against Sircar.
Jamiruddin Sircar was the speaker from October 28, 2001 until January 25, 2009. He was mired in deep controversy over allegations of corruption in recruitment and procurement for the Parliament Secretariat and unlawfully taking huge amount of money as medical bills.
On Monday, Speaker Abdul Hamid proposed forming the probe body and the House unanimously approved it.
AL lawmakers ASM Firoz, Shajahan Khan, SK Abu Baker, Abdul Mannan, Habibar Rahman, Mazharul Haque Prodhan, ABM Anwarul Haque, Opposition Chief Whip and BNP lawmaker Zainul Abdin Farroque, Jatiya Party lawmaker Mujibul Haque Chunnu and Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal's Mainuddin Khan Badal are the members of the committee.
The Parliament Secretariat will assist the probe body.
On Tuesday, former speaker Jamiruddin Sircar, who is contesting the parliamentary by-election from Bogra-6, said at a press conference that the treasury bench lawmakers raised the allegations against him to destroy his image and thus benefit his opponent AL candidate in the by-poll.
Immediately after formation of the committee, Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque took the floor and asked why the probe body will investigate allegations against Sircar only.
In response, Hamid said allegations of corruption were not raised against any other previous speaker except Sircar. Besides, some of the former speakers have already died, he added.
According to the Jatiya Sangsad Secretariat Act 1994, the Parliament Secretariat is independent and gets separate budgetary allocation and all its money is spent under the speaker's authority.
Meanwhile, Opposition Chief Whip Zainul Abdin Farroque said he would discuss with party chief Khaleda Zia whether he will work with the probe committee or not.
"The committee has been formed to tarnish the image of former speaker Jamiruddin Sircar," Farroque told reporters outside the parliament building.
Fazle Rabbi Mia, head of the committee, told reporters that he would try his best to dig out the truth and uphold the dignity of the House.
After yesterday's sitting, the speaker adjourned the House until 4:00pm of March 29.

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