SUMMARY TRIAL POWER FOR EXEC MAGISTRATES
Admin officials mount pressure on govtMustafizur Rahman
The BCS Administrative Service Association is pressuring the government for an amendment to the Mobile Court Act, 2009 to reinstate summery trial power of the executive magistrates in keeping with a ‘decision of the deputy commissioners’ conference in 2010,’ according to officials.
The administration officials want a ‘few words’ to be included in the Section 6 of the law so that an executive magistrate could take cognisance of scheduled crimes committed before him and try summarily based on statements of at least two witnesses even though the accused persons do not confess to guilt, a senior official confirmed.
Mobile courts can try summarily only when the accused confess to their guilt as per the existing law.
The magistrates do not have the legal authority to conducting summary trial in case the accused denies the allegations as the judiciary has been separated from the executive since November 2007.
Bangladesh Civil Service Administrative Association president Abu Alam Md Shahid Khan in a demi-official letter on Tuesday requested the senior secretary to the home ministry, CQK Mustaq Ahmed, for initiatives to amend the mobile court law to make the district administrations ‘more effective’.
The move came towards the end of the Awami League-led alliance government’s tenure.
Abu Alam, also the local government secretary, noted that the deputy commissioners’ conference on July 25, 2010 had taken the decision that the Mobile Court Act, 2009 would be amended as the executive magistrates were facing legal complications in operating mobile courts to maintain law and order after the separation of the judiciary.
The BCS Administrative Service Association president also mentioned that the Cabinet Division on November 22, 2011 had issued a letter to the home ministry asking for brining about necessary amendments to the law.
The deputy commissioners from across the country had renewed their proposal for reinstatement of ‘summery trial power’ for the executive magistrates at their annual conference in July 23-25, this year, considered to be last such meeting in the tenure of the incumbent government.
On the concluding day of the conference, law minister Shafique Ahmed, however, had ruled out the deputy commissioners’ proposal to restore summary trial power to the executive magistrates.
He told reporters after a business session on the day that there was no scope for the executive magistrates to take cognisance of offences and exercise judicial authority after the separation of the judiciary from the executive branch.
Shafique had said that the DCs’ proposal for restoration of powers of the executive magistrates to conduct summary trial and take cognisance of offences was contradictory to the constitution and the Supreme Court verdict as well.
The deputy commissioners, who also hold the rank of district magistrate, have been demanding legal amendments for getting back the summary trial power to maintain law and order ‘more effectively’.
The mobile courts are operated not only to check food adulteration but also to curb criminal offences during political programmes like hartals nowadays.
A mobile court can award a maximum punishment of two-year imprisonment.
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