'Draft laws for EC, SC secretariats at final stage'
Monday, 28 January 2008

Agency

The interim government would set up separate secretariats for the Election Commission and the Supreme Court before general elections, law, justice and parliamentary affairs adviser AF Hassan Ariff said on Saturday.

'Work on drafting related laws is at the final stage. The draft will be finalised in 15 days from now and will be presented before the cabinet for approval,' he told reporters at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre.

Earlier, the adviser inaugurated a national conference on 'Model Legal Aid in Bangladesh' co-organised by the law ministry and Bangladesh Law Reforms Project.

Senior judiciary officials and representatives of bar associations from 61 districts across the country took part in the daylong conference. The participants were given guidelines on different aspects of legal aid. Speaking to the reporters, Ariff said the government would soon start dialogue with political parties.

'However, before that, the political parties have to pledge what they want to do for people because nobody wants a repeat of the pre-1/11 situation,' he said.

'They have nothing to pledge to the government, rather they must pledge to the people,' he added. The adviser was not specific on schedule for dialogue. 'Political parties need not to compromise with the government.

They should compromise with the people,' he said. Asked to comment on the recent statement of Azam J Chowdhury, the complainant of an extortion case against former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, the adviser said: 'The case is on trial. I have nothing to comment.'

'However, the court can include anybody in a case. The accused have to appear in court if necessary. This is completely under the jurisdiction of a court.' Earlier in the inaugural session of the conference, Ariff said the interim government was working for establishing the rule of law in the country.

'A number of important steps have already been taken in this regard.

The judiciary has been separated from the executive.

The government launched an anti-corruption drive,' the former attorney general said. Due to the steps, he said, the government would be able to leave a strong judiciary to the next elected government. 'People are still being deprived of justice.

They are not getting their due rights. The government has formed legal aid committees in districts following the models in developed countries. Ordinary people are getting help from the centres.'

The Canadian high commissioner, Barbara Richardson, present in the conference, said Canada was committed to assisting in the legal reform activities of Bangladesh.

She said her country's assistance in increasing the efficiency of judiciary and law ministry officials would continue. The acting law secretary, Kazi Habibul Awal, presided over the inaugural session of the conference.

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