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“All Citizens are Equal before Law and are Entitled to Equal Protection of Law”-Article 27 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Issue No: 184
August 28, 2010

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Court's ruling on Ershad era
After the Supreme Court's nullifying the fifth amendment to the country's constitution, the High Court will deliver a verdict on the seventh amendment that legitimises HM Ershad's military takeover and the acts under his military rule. An HC bench of Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain fixed Thursday, August 26, 2010, for the verdict on a writ petition that challenged the seventh amendment to the constitution. The seventh amendment ratified the proclamation of martial law and other regulations, orders and instructions by Ershad between March 24, 1982, and November 10, 1986. Ershad, the then chief of army staff, declared himself the chief martial law administrator and imposed martial law on March 24, 1982. -The Daily Star, August 26, 2010.

Presidential ordinances to become scarce
Extensive promulgation of presidential ordinances during caretaker governments will no longer be possible, as the president's sweeping legislative authority, in absence of a parliament, has been declared void by the apex court of the country. The same will also be applicable for any outgoing elected government between the dissolution of a parliament and formation of a caretaker government, legal experts said. The original 1972 constitution allowed presidential ordinances on any urgent matter when the parliament would not be in session, and only to meet urgent financial expenditure from a consolidated fund, at the president's discretion, when the parliament would stand dissolved. -The Daily Star, August 26, 2010.

5th amendment verdict paves way for justice
The recent judgment of the Supreme Court cancelling the fifth amendment to the constitution has opened the door for challenging the legality of the controversial secret trial of Bir Uttam Colonel Abu Taher. Taher's relatives and the lawyer who moved the petition challenging the trial's legality narrated the background of their coming forward. They said the perspective has changed after the Supreme Court's historic verdict that declared illegal the governments and military rule and martial law regulations between the murder of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975, and April 9, 1979. Khandker Mushtaque Ahmed, Abu Sadaat Mohammad Sayem and Maj Gen Ziaur Rahman led the governments during that period. "This changed perspective prompted us to correct the historic wrong of executing Teher in a farcical trial under a Martial Law Tribunal," Prof Anwar Hossain, brother of Col Taher, told The Daily Star at his Dhaka University home. -The Daily Star, August 25, 2010.

Man's battle restores people's right
Maqsud Alam's fundamental right to property was infringed. He sought redress from all government departments concerned, but they did not quite extend a helping hand. So finally he embarked on a lengthy legal battle for his right, but could not move forward without challenging the 5th amendment to the country's constitution. His challenge to the legality of the 5th amendment paved the way for the Supreme Court Appellate Division's recent landmark ruling which declared that amendment illegal and void. And his victory in the 34-year long battle not only restored his family's ownership of the property at 11 Waizghat Road in the capital, but also restored the constitution's legal supremacy. The judgment declared illegal the first martial law regime that ushered in the 5th amendment. -The Daily Star, August 25, 2010.

Relics haunt constitution
The Supreme Court's recent nullification of the constitution's 5th amendment left the country's supreme charter with some remnant clauses which are now either contradictory or irrelevant. A study by the parliamentary special committee for constitutional amendment identified 11 articles for special attention when it reviews the entire constitution for necessary amendments. Some of those articles contain serious anomalies. The law justice and parliamentary affairs ministry, and Law Commission agreed with the study report prepared by the chair and co-chair of the special committee in association with the parliament secretariat, committee sources said. -The Daily Star, August 24, 2010.

Cops to arrest errant drivers
Law enforcers will make arrests for reckless driving and won't allow slow moving vehicles on highways across the country to avert road accidents. Against the backdrop of high rate of road crashes, the decisions came at a meeting styled “Checking Road Accidents” at the police headquarters in the capital yesterday. Contacted, the police department however didn't give any timeframe for the implementation of these decisions. Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner AKM Shahidul Hoque told The Daily Star after the meeting that police will arrest drivers on charge of rash driving irrespective of any accident occurring or not. Deputy Commissioner (traffic) Selim Mohammad Jahangir who attended the meeting told The Daily Star that they would move the vehicle using a wrecker after arresting its driver. -The Daily Star, August 24, 2010.

SC's firm no to toxic ship
The Supreme Court directed Bangladesh Ship Breakers' Association (BSBA) to execute the High Court order to get all scrap ships decontaminated at source and outside Bangladesh territory. A full bench of the SC passed the order during hearing of an appeal filed by BSBA seeking a stay on the HC order. The BSBA sought to import toxic ships within the interim period until the government formulates guidelines for the ship-breaking yards. The HC division in its order on May 11 directed BSBA to have pre-cleaning certificate of decontamination before importing vessels into Bangladesh for breaking. "The order means the ship breakers would not be able to import toxic ships," said Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of the Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers' Association (BELA). - The Daily Star, August 23, 2010.

Veil can't be forced: HC
The High Court issued a suo moto order directing the government to ensure that no woman is forced to wear borkha (veil) or religious attires at the educational institutions and offices across the country. The court also ordered the government to ensure that the cultural activities and sports in the educational institutions are not restricted in any manner. An HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain came up with the order following a news item published in a Bangla daily yesterday with the headline “Rani Bhabani Mahila College - Borka Na Porle Ashte Mana” meaning the students of Rani Bhabani Women's College without veils are barred from entering the college. The news item said the Principal of the college in Natore Mozammel Haque, who joined the college two months ago, has stopped any cultural activities and sports at the college and restricted the entrance of the students (female) without borkha or veil to the college. - The Daily Star, August 23, 2010.


Corresponding with the Law Desk
Please send your mails, queries, and opinions to: Law Desk, The Daily Star 19 Karwan Bazar, Dhaka-1215; telephone 8124944,8124955,fax 8125155; email: dslawdesk@yahoo.co.uk,lawdesk@thedailystar.net


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