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Saturday, December 25, 2010

GoB gives green signal, Land Commission starts “trial” hearing tomorrow despite opposition

A high profile source of the CHT Affairs Ministry tells to a team associated with the CHT Voice that Begum Sajeda Chowdhury, M.P., Chairman of the CHT Accord Implementation Committee and Mr. Dipankar Talkudar, M.P., State Minister, responsible for the CHT Affairs Ministry shall observe the hearing of some limited cases of land disputes and thus judge the neutrality and capability of the CHT Land Commission on 27th instant, during the commission’s 3-day long "trial" hearing of "some" cases.

This highly placed source further says, referring to the prime Minister, the govt is committed for the amendment of the Land Commission Act, but it want to remove all the flops of the Act once for all and it can only be nailed out once there is trial hearing of the cases. The GoB wants to avoid bringing amendments several times of an Act through this process, the highly placed quarter says.

The Prothom Alo, a prestigious national vernacular reports today (http://www.prothom-alo.com/detail/date/2010-12-25/news/118215), Chairman of the CHT Regional Council, Mr. Santu Larma and also a member of the Land Commission will not attend the hearing on the ground that it will not yield any positive result unless the Act is amended. Raja Devasish Roy, Chakma Circle Chief, another member of the commission expressed his concern and raised question that how the commission could start its function before removing the inconsistencies.

Mr. Goutam Dewan, chair of CHT Citizen’s Committee, a civic body of the Jummas tells the Prothom Alo that the Land Commission Act recognizes the customs and traditions of the “tribals” in resolution of land disputes and also puts question how the commission could start its function before defining the tradition and custom. Mr. Dewan challenged the commission’s trial without amendment to the Act, on 23rd instant at a civic discussion in Dhaka, the Prothom Alo reports yesterday.

Retired Justice Golam Rabbani tells a JSS team (anti-Larma) yesterday in Dhaka that it will be injustice if the Land Commission starts hearing of cases before amendments to the Act. “The Government might have formed the Land Commission before the enactment of the commission’s law is just to prove that she was keen to implement the CHT accord.” he remarked on a question of legal justification of formation of the Land Commission without the law.

The Land Commission was formed on 3rd June, 1999 through a Land Ministry notification issued from the Section no. 2 with the order of the President of Bangladesh. The Land Commission’s Act (The Chittagong Hill Tracts Land Dispute and Resolution Commission Act 2001) was passed in the Parliament on 12 July and got assent of the President on 17 July in 2001 and got its effect at once. The CHT Regional Council and 3 Hill District Councils were also not consulted before the enactment as per direction of section 53 of the CHT Regional Council Act. The CHT Regional Council sent proposal to the GoB for amendment of 19 points of the Land Commission Act on 28th August 2001 and afterwards it rose up to 24 points.

[Excerpt from the CHT Regional Council Act, 1998]
Section 53. Discussion etc. with the Council regarding new laws: (1) The Government if it initiates to make any law concerning the Council or the Chittagong Hill Tracts shall take necessary measures for making the law in consultation with the Council and the concerned Hill District Council and after by considering the advice of the Council. (2) The Council may apply or submit recommendations to the Government if the necessity arises to amend such a law which might adversely affect development of the three Hill Districts and the well being of the tribal people or if the necessity arises to make new laws.”

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