Nation this week
The High Court questioned the legality of the provision in the law that requires police to take the authorities' permission before arresting government officials on charges relating to their jobs. According to Section 41 of the Government Service Act, 2018, until a court accepts the charges against a civil servant, law enforcers cannot arrest the individual without the approval from the ministry concerned. The HC issued a rule asking authorities concerned of the government to explain in four weeks why Section 41 of the law should not be scrapped.
During hearing on a writ petition, the HC also asked the respondents to show causes as to why they should not be directed to refrain from giving postings to suspended deputy commissioner Sultana Pervin, and suspended executive magistrates Rintu Bikash Chakma and Nazim Uddin, who came to prominence for a midnight raid in the guise of a mobile court at the residence of journalist Ariful Islam Regan in Kurigram last year.
Nearly 1,500 cases have been filed under the Digital Security Act in 20 months, according to think tank Centre for Governance Studies (CGS). The CGS, a governance and research platform, in the course of a study funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), tracked and documented the cases filed under the draconian law since January 1, 2020. The findings were shared marking three years of the Act, with its draconian provisions and vague language that can be used to prosecute almost anything appearing on the screens of ubiquitous digital devices.
The law has severely curtailed freedom of expression in Bangladesh, CGS said, adding that journalists and citizens of various walks of society had been victimised. More than 1500 cases were filed under the DSA till September 15, 2021, from the start of the CGS project. The CGS tracked the details of 668 cases and found that the total number of accused in these cases was 1,516. One hundred forty two were journalists, 35 were teachers, 194 politicians and 67 students.
Illegal handsets are set to lose network connectivity from October 1 as the government look to curb the menace of duty-dodging while importing mobile phones, which also undercuts the competitiveness of the locally assembled devices. To that end, telecoms regulator BTRC on July 1 installed the National Equipment Identity Register (NEIR), a central database for International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), a unique 15-digit identification or serial number inbuilt in mobile phones.
At present, the import tariff for smartphones amounts to about 57 percent, while for feature phones it is about 35 percent. In preparation for the rollout of the NEIR, the telecom regulator has registered all handsets in use in the local networks until June 30. Between July 1 and September 30, 1.08 crore handsets were activated in Bangladesh, according to BTRC.
Multiple injuries were found on the body of college student Mosarat Jahan Munia, who was found dead in a Gulshan flat in April, the High Court said this week, citing from the long-suppressed autopsy report. The bench of Justice Mustafa Zaman Islam and Justice KM Zahid Sarwar said this while hearing a petition for anticipatory bail sought by Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir and his wife in a case filed over the rape and murder of Munia. Anvir and Munia were in an on-and-off affair for two years at the time of her death.
The court struck off Anvir from the petition but granted six weeks anticipatory bail to his wife and moved to hear the next matter pending with the bench. On August 18, a Dhaka court relieved Anvir from an initial charge of abetting the suicide of Munia. On September 6, Munia's elder sister filed a case with Dhaka's 8th Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal against eight persons, including Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, and his son Anvir, accusing them of rape and murder.
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