Nation this week
Justice Hasan Foez Siddique, a senior judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, has been appointed the 23rd Chief Justice of the country. President M Abdul Hamid made the appointment in line with article 95(1) of the constitution, after Chief Justice Syed Mahmud Hossain retired on December 30. Justice Siddique was one of the 10 judges who were dropped from the confirmation list for High Court judges, by the BNP-led government that was in power from 2001-2006, despite the chief justice's positive recommendation, as they were appointed during the previous Awami League tenure (1996-2001).
The judges were reappointed as HC judges in 2009 in line with the Appellate Division verdict. Justice Siddique was a member of the seven-member bench of the Appellate Division that scrapped the controversial sixteenth amendment of the constitution which had empowered the parliament to remove SC judges for incapacity or misconduct. Besides, he delivered judgments on a number of important cases including the meaning of "life imprisonment".
The results of the Secondary School Certificate and equivalent examinations were published on Thursday with a pass rate of 93.58 percent. The SSC pass rate was 94.08 percent while that of madrasa 93.33 percent and technical 88.49 percent. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina published the results, joining a function at Bangabandhu International Conference virtually from her official residence Ganobhaban. On behalf of the prime minister, Education Minister Dipu Moni received the results of the Secondary School Certificate and its equivalent examinations-2021 and related statistics from the chairmen of all the education boards.
This year, 2,240,395 students - 1,142,094 boys and 1,098,301 girls - participated in the SSC and its equivalent examinations from 29,035 institutes under eleven education boards in Bangladesh. Of them, 2,096,546 candidates successfully cleared the exams. The examinations were held with short syllabuses on three elective subjects on a group basis. Last year's HSC examinees were evaluated on the basis of their results of JSC and SSC exams, a decision which received a mixed reaction.
At least 46 people were killed and about 100 others injured after a packed ferry caught fire on the River Sugandha near Jhalakathi in southern Bangladesh. The blaze on the three-decked vessel started mid-river as it sailed from capital Dhaka to the town of Barguna.
Some of the victims drowned after jumping into the water. The number of casualties is likely to increase as many of the passengers have severe burns, and several remain missing. Estimates have varied, but between 500-800 people were reportedly on board the vessel, the MV Avijan-10, which had a capacity to carry just 310.
The fire is believed to have started in the engine room and quickly spread as the ferry travelled along the Sugandha River at around 3am on December 24, when most passengers would have been asleep. The ship's owner, Humjalal Sheikh, has denied it was caused by a mechanical fault. He told our sister newsagency UNB there had been an explosion on the ferry's second floor, and the subsequent fire had spread to the engine room.
Law Minister Anisul Huq provided the strongest hint yet that the government is considering amending some sections of the Digital Security Act as the law was being abused in certain cases. He said a six-member team has already been formed to work on addressing some discontent centring the law. The team comprises representatives from relevant ministries, including law, information and communications technology, and home. It was formed after the minister contacted the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to inquire about best practices over such laws.
The team has been engaged with a similar team formed by the UN body to find out whether enforcement of DSA led to violations of human rights in any way, Anisul said, adding, "If they find any such violation, we will take necessary steps to correct it." The minister was replying to queries from reporters at a function organised by the Overseas Correspondent Association Bangladesh.
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