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June 22, 2003 

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  Writ on Judges' confirmation stayed

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court has stayed for three months all proceedings of the writ filed in the High Court Division challenging non-confirmation of additional judges by the government. Three former additional judges and two lawyers filed the writ. The Court has also allowed the government to file an appeal against a High Court Division's order that asked the government to produce records of the Chief Justice's recommendations regarding confirmation of service of the additional judges. The appeal petition will be heard in the court during the stay period. It may be mentioned that on 27 May 2003, a three-member bench asked the government to produce all records including the recommendations of the Chief Justice. -Law Desk.

Bangladesh signs FCTC

Bangladesh has singed the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) at a formal ceremony of the World Health Organisation (WHO). Bangladesh is the only country from South Asia to sing the convention. Upon ratification by 40 countries, the convention will come into force. Norway is the first country to submit its instrument of ratification. The FCTC was adopted at the 56th WHO assembly on 31 May 2003. -Bhorer Kagoj, 17 June.

Bangladeshis languish in foreign prisons

More than 5000 Bangladeshis are languishing in jails and concentration camps of sixty countries. This was revealed by a report of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). According to the report, over 200 Bangladeshis are convicts and the rest were arrested for illegal migration or stay without valid documents. Secretary of the Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry Mr. Daliludding Mondol said process for release of the Bangladeshis is underway, but it is very difficult as many of them do not have any document and some do not want to return home. -Daily Star, 11 June.

Punishment of police increasing

A total of 19,622 policemen were punished for their involvement in corruption and other criminal activities in the year 2002. The number was 16,913 in 2001. In 2002, 156 police personnel were fired, 55 forced into retirement, 1,778 awarded heavy punishment, 17,844 light punishment and the rest awarded various punishments. Most of those punished were lower level officials and police personnel. Only one Superintendent of Police (SP) was forced into retirement and an Additional Superintendent of Police was given light punishment. No policemen above the rank of SP were punished during this period. Two Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASPs) were given forced retirement and two others heavy punishment. Seventy-three police inspectors got heavy punishment. Besides, 8,303 sub-inspectors were punished, 145 of them fired and three forced into retirement. Those punished included 490 traffic sergeants with two of them fired and 3,501 assistant sub-inspectors, five of them were given forced retirement. The others included 892 Havilders and 404 Nayeks. Besides, 5,474 Constables were also punished in this year. -Daily Star, 11 June.

Backlog of cases at Jessore

Over 900 cases are pending in the Artha Rin Adalat of Jessore district for realising about Tk. 70 crore from the loan defaulters of different banks. The district Artha Rin Adalat has been rearranged into a full fledged Artha Rin Adalat by shifting all criminal cases from the court to facilitate trial of bank loan defaulting cases only. The new Artha Rin Adalat started functioning from May of 2003. -Independent, 10 June.

Permanent Public prosecutors

The government is finalising a bill seeking to establish a permanent legal service in which government lawyers and public prosecutors will be recruited through the Public Service Commission (PSC). The Director General (Prosecution) of the proposed permanent legal service would look after the service of the legal officers. On the operational side the Attorney General would supervise work of the legal officers at the Supreme Court, and the DG will do that in the lower courts. At present, public prosecutors are appointed every time a new government takes office. -Independent, 10 June.

20 vessels fined for pollution

A mobile court at the Chittagong port has fined 20 vessels including a cargo ship of Singapore Tk. 34.24 lakh for emitting excessive black smoke and polluting the environment. Magistrate of the court Mr. Manir Chowdhury fined MV Maritime Saith of Singapore Tk. 20 lakh and 19 local vessels including seven cargo ships, seven fishing trawlers, one tugboat and four cargo trawlers Tk. 14.24 lakh. The court also asked the fishing trawlers and cargo ships not to enter the port. -Prothom Alo, 12 June.

More rooms for prisoner

Capacity of the prisons of the country will be increased by the end of the year 2003. A project of Tk. 40 crore for expansion of nine jails is going on first pace which will accommodate 2500 more inmates. This was disclosed at the sixth meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Jail Reforms. The expansion work is taking place at Kashipmpur of Gazipur, Narayanganj, Munshiganj, Rajbari, Chittagong, Noagoan, Moulavibazar, Sathkhira and Hobigonj prisons. At present a total of 71,290 prisoners are languishing in the 65 prisons of the country against the capacity of about 25,500. Among them, 8000 inmates have been passing their days inside the prisons for a long time without any trial. -Daily Star, 16 June.

CrPC amendment bill tabled

A bill for amendment of the Code of Criminal Procedure has been introduced in the Jatiya Sangsad styled Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2003. The amendment bill provides for counting the period that an accused spends in custody and deduct that from the period of jail sentence finally handed down to the accused if he is adjudged guilty. In the explanation of the amendment it is said that such a provision has always been there, but it was up to the court's discretion. With this bill the provision is proposed to be a mandatory one. If and when implemented, this would substantially reduce government expenditure and bring relief to the overcrowded jails. -Daily Star, 16 June.

WCRP Act amendment bill introduced

The government has introduced a bill in the parliament seeking amendment to the Women and Children Repression Prevention (WCRP) Act 2000. The bill provides for clarifying the definition of certain offences and reducing punishment to stop the abuse of the law. Under the proposed amendment, the definition of a child has been given as a person of upto 16 years instead of 14 years. The bill also provides that if a baby born out of rape, the baby will be kept under the care of mother and will be known after his/her mother or father or both. Besides, the state will take the responsibility of that baby until he/she attains the age of 21 years. Under this provision, the state will realise the money spent for upbringing the baby from the rapist. It is proposed that the provision of 'indecent gesture' should be omitted from the list of sexual harassment offence, as in most cases the provision is exploited to harass rivals. - Ittefaq, 16 June.

OC sued for sexual harassment

The Officer in-Charge (OC) of Kumarkhali Thana of Kushtia district has been charged with sexual harassment by a woman. Ambia Khatun of the Thana filed the case with the Women and Children Repression Prevention Court accusing the OC of trying to harass her sexually. According to the complainants, OC Ayubur Rahman entered her room and tried to catch her when she was alone on 9 June. As she shouted for help, her neighbours rushed to her house and rescued her. She further alleged that the OC threatened her not to disclose the matter. -New Age, 16 June.

Cases pending at Narail

A total of 4,348 cases are awaiting trial in the courts of Narail district. Of the cases, 1,424 are in Kalia, 1,312 are in Lohagara and 1,612 in Narail Sadar. Seventy-eight of the cases are relating to torture in women and children. The additional district and sessions judge who is in charge of district judge told those cases have piled up due to shortage of judges. There is only one judge for the three courts of the district. -Daily Star, 17 June.

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