2017 has been a rather busy year in the judicial calendar. We have seen decisions generating new ideas, and we have seen a plethora of legislations. All in all we have got 24 laws being enacted in the year 2017. A notable few have been discussed below:
CADET COLLEGE ACT
The first enactment of 2017 replaced the 47-year-old Pakistan-era legislation, specifically setting out provisions for establishment of cadet colleges by issuing government notification and allowing college governing system as a statutory institution.
The constitution of Bangladesh in Article 18(a) talks about the preservation of biodiversity. Bangladesh, as part of United Nations Convention on Biological diversity, is committed to the protection of biodiversity, sustainable use of resources, and dispensation of knowledge regarding such. The Biodiversity law dictates that if someone's actions leave an adverse impact on the ecological system or endangers ecological community, that person shall incur a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment or fine up to ten lac taka or both.
BANGLADESH RURAL DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY ACT
This Act has sought to replace the 1986 ordinance. This law has added provisions for establishing offices at the departmental level. Under the law, the Chairman of the Board of Directors would be the Minister of the Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. The law provides that in the absence of a minister, the state minister or sub-ministers will be appointed as chairman.
The Act contains 32 sections comprising the power of the government to produce, research on and promote jute and jute goods, the power of the government in the business of jute and jute goods, licensing, valuing, imposing development fees, formation of development fund, contract registration, sale, prohibition power, sales direction, power, information, the ability to summon, the ability to seize extra-stock reserves, false statements or violations of the law, impunity and penalties etc. The maximum punishment for violation of the law is three years of imprisonment or Tk 100,000 fine or both.
CHILD MARRIAGE RESTRAINT ACT
With the passing of this law, the marriageable age for girls and boys continue to be 18 years and 21 years, but inclusion of 'special circumstances' creates the much debated exception. But what is the special context and how young can be married at this age, has not been made clear in the law. However draft rules have been formulated in order to give an explanation to what would constitute these 'special circumstances. As per the cabinet, it was said that the courts will decide on the interpretation of such.
BANGLADESH UNNAYAN GOBESHONA PROTISHTHAN ACT 2017
This enactment undertakes to establish an institution for the purpose of undertaking and promoting study, research and for dissemination of knowledge in the field of development economics, demography and other social sciences and for related purposes by repealing the Bangladesh Unnayan Gobeshona Protishthan Act 1974. Under this law, the chairman of the Planning Minister has been asked to form a 14-member board. It has specific provisions for the meetings of the Board, Director General Secretary, Committee, Policy Coordination Committee, Administration Committee, Finance Committee, Committee Meeting, Fund, Budget, Accounting and Audit, Report, Rules and Regulations.
BANGLADESH ACCREDITATION COUNCIL ACT
The responsibility of the council will be to ensure high quality education, to monitor the activities of the university, to set the conditions of the certificate and to cancel accreditation certificates, if necessary. However, cancellation of certificate is amenable to review. According to the law, without any accreditation certificate, an organisation cannot promote accreditation. Higher institutions will not be able to give certificates without the national qualification framework. After withdrawing the certificate of an organisation, that institution will be forced to surrender the certificate within the stipulated time of the council. The council cannot present any wrong information and any concealment of information during the visit of any higher organisation will be treated as an offense, rendering the accreditation certificate canceled.
BANGLADESH AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE ACT
It has been decided to abolish the pre-existing Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute Ordinance. The provisions of the Act set out specifics for offices and centers, the activities of the Institute, the guidance given by the council. In this Act, the provision of formation of a board of 12-member institute has been made with the task of deciding related matters such as board functions, board meeting, appointment of recruitment, employee recruitment, funding, budget, accounting and audit, reports, committee formation, ability to borrow, contract signing, foreign training and education, rules of rules and regulations.
BANGLADESH ROAD TRANSPORT AUTHORITY ACT
The law expressly confers power on authority to form a company. Previously, the authorities have been able to form one or more companies under the Company's Act 1994. For the creation of a board of directors, a meeting of BRTA Advisory Council and chair of the BRTA has to be made. The members of the Dhaka North and South City Corporation, Secretary of Road Transport and Highways Division, Home Secretary, Local Government Division Secretary, Trade Secretary, Housing and Public Works Secretary, Railway Secretary and Shipping Secretary and relevant departments will be members of that Advisory Council.
The writer works with Law Desk, The Daily Star.