PM asks DCs to keep vigil

Bangladesh on 28 July 2013
Location : Bangladesh | Source : New Age

The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, on Tuesday asked deputy commissioners to keep vigil against extra-constitutional intervention that might affect the prevailing democratic system. 
She said that district administrators should work closely with elected representatives to ensure the continuation of the democratic system and people’s franchise.
‘We must work carefully to prevent any more extra-constitutional rules in the country… You should work closely with public representatives and keep vigil so that the extra-constitutional authorities cannot take over,’ Hasina said as she inaugurated the three-day conference of deputy commissioners at the Prime Minister’s Office. 
All the 64 deputy commissioners and seven divisional commissioners are taking part in the conference being held before the next general elections as the Awami League-led government will serve out its five-year tenure in January 2014. 
Ministers, advisers to the prime minister and senior officials, among others, attended the inaugural session which was followed by an open discussion exclusively with the prime minister.  
Alluding to the immediate past military-backed interim government, Hasina said that the people had earlier been oppressed by the military, quasi-military and military-backed governments.  
She iterated that the next general elections would be conducted the way they are held in other democracies as the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party was demanding the restoration of the non-party, caretaker government system to the constitution. 
Hasina, also president of the Awami League, said that the city corporation and other local body elections were held under the present administration in a free and fair manner.
Deputy commissioners of Jessore, Comilla and Bhola spoke at the opening session. 
Jessore and Comilla deputy commissioners stressed the need for the restoration of the summary trial authority to executive magistrates so that they could run mobile courts more ‘effectively’ to keep law and order. Mobile courts are also run at the time of polls to maintain order.

The prime minister gave a 17-point directive to the field administrators to ensure the welfare of people and a smooth implementation of development programmes.

She asked the district administrators to keep an eye on madrassahs so that the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami could not use the institutions for any propaganda. 

In separate business sessions with the public administration ministry and the home ministry at the secretariat, the deputy commissioners, who also hold the rank of district magistrates, recommended some amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure providing executive magistrates with ‘some judicial authority,’ a deputy commissioner told New Age.

He said that executive magistrates had no judicial authority after the separation 
of the judiciary from the executive. 

Deputy commissioners of Chittagong, Jessore and Shariatpur recommended that the home ministry should constitute a separate police unit or mobile court police and place them at the disposal of the office of deputy commissioner. 
‘Deputy commissioners should be provided with adequate police force so that executive magistrates do not face any problem in running mobile courts,’ the state minister for home, Shamsul Haque, said. 
They also demanded ‘risk allowances’ for executive magistrates engaged in risky operations or posted to remote areas. 

‘We will take up the suggestions for the restoration of the summary trial power to executive magistrates for discussions with the law ministry and with the judiciary for a decision,’ the prime minister’s adviser on administrative affairs HT Imam told reporters after a business session at the secretariat.

The maintenance of law and order, price control, curbing corruption, particularly in land offices, poverty alleviation, revenue collection, strengthening local government bodies and expediting development programmes also were featured in various sessions on the first day of the conference.

A deputy commissioner said that they had again asked for an amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure so that executive magistrates could hold summary trial besides the operation of mobile courts to maintain order. The same demand was raised in several conferences after the separation of the judiciary that came into effect in November 2007.

He said that mobile courts could try an offence summarily only when the accused admitted to being guilty. Magistrates do not have the legal authority to conduct summary trials in case the accused brush aside allegations as the judiciary has been separated form the executive.  

As for conflicts between police and administration officials in the field, HT Imam said that the deputy commissioners had been asked to work in a team with the police and other cadres to ensure that the state or services to people were not affected.  

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