The Cabinet on Monday approved an amendment to the British-era Evidence Act that will disallow questioning about a rape survivor's character during court trial handing a key victory to the rights groups who find the provision insulting to victims.

The draft of Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2022 sailed through Cabinet at its meeting chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who joined it through a virtual platform from her official residence Ganobhaban.

The proposed amendment seeks to restrict section 146(3) of the Evidence Act so victims cannot be asked "obnoxious questions" regarding their character without court's permission, according to media briefing by Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam.

"Some amendments were brought in the draft law as the digital court has been recognized," he said.

He said there is a tendency to question the character of victims by the opponent side. "In the draft law, there is a restriction on it. The permission will have to be taken from the court to raise questions over the character of anyone straightway," he said.

According to the proposed law, digital records will be accepted as evidence, he said, adding that data alongside information can also be used.

The authorities concerned have been asked to translate the law (The Evidence Act, 1872) into Bangla immediately, he said.

Besides, the Cabinet in principle approved the draft of Village Court (Amendment) Act, 2022 changing the provision to dispose of a case within 15 days instead of 30 days as well as incorporating the word 'child' in place of 'Nabalok' (minor child).

As per the draft law, no child can be produced before the village court and the child will be defined as per the Children Act, said the top bureaucrat.

He said the court can raise the maximum compensation of Tk 300,000, which was Tk 75,000 in the Children Act, 2013.

The Cabinet also cleared the draft of Marine Fishing Guideline, 2022.

The Cabinet directed the Fisheries Department to mark the marine fishing vessels with specific colour and number within four months as it would take time to bring all the vessels under the registration process.

Khandker Islam said the number of marine fishing vessels might be more than 10,000.

The Cabinet gave the final approval to Bangladesh Art-Design Act, 2022 aiming to protect the intellectual properties.

The properties that go against ethics, public order and welfare of the people would not get the protection under the law, said Khandker Islam adding that unregistered arts or designs would not get protection as well.

The meeting cleared the draft bilateral agreement over flight operation between Bangladesh and Rwanda.

The meeting asked the authorities concerned to assess the economic aspects further before signing the agreement.

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