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Speedy Trial Act placed in JS

Staff Reporter:

The much-debated Speedy Trial Act was placed in Parliament on Thursday aiming to make it a permanent legislation instead of implementing it step by step.

Law Minister Anisul Huq placed the bill in the House on behalf of Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal as he was not present in the House.

The Act was first enacted in 2002 for two years. Later the duration of the law was extended in seven phases. The law was last amended in 2019 and its duration was extended. This law will expire on April 9.

The government has decided to make the law permanent without extending it. This decision was taken in the cabinet on January 29. After the approval of the cabinet, the bill was placed in parliament on Thursday.

The bill does not propose any amendment other than making the law permanent. Therefore, all the existing sections of the law will remain as it is now.

In the objective of the bill, the home minister said that the speedy trial act was enacted in 2002 in a bid to speedy trial of serious offences like extortion, creating obstacles during the movement of vehicles, damaging vehicles, destroying immovable and immovable property, robbery, banditry, creating terror and anarchic situations, buying tenders and to improve the law and order situation of the country.

At the time of enactment of the Act, its tenure was 2 years. Later, as per the requirements, the term was extended 7 times gradually and lastly on 10 April, 2019 it was extended from 17 years to 22 years which will expire on April9, 2024.

In order to keep the overall law and order situation of the country normal and for further improvement, it is necessary to make this law a permanent law without extending it again and again at the end of the period, the home minister said in a written statement.

Indictment under this law can result in two to five years of imprisonment with hard labour along with fines. The trials are carried out by multiple speedy tribunals in every district.

Offences that fall under the Speedy Trial Act are supposed to be settled in 120 days. In case of failure to do so, another 60 days can be added to the term.

Opposition Chief Whip and Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu strongly opposed placing of the bill, saying that when the BNP passed the law in 2002 the Awami League and all other political parties had criticised it.

He said that although the name of the law is speedy trial law but, in the court, very few cases are being disposed of in the specified time.

Chunnu also said that the law is considered only at the time of arrest. If the government has the intention with this law, there is a chance to harass the common people or opponents.

“You (Awami League) are in power today, if someone else comes in power tomorrow, you will be harassed by this law,” Chunnu also said.

He demanded not to make the law permanent. If necessary, extend the term for one or two years.

“You (AL) will suffer, people will suffer as well.”

In response, the law minister said when this was enacted they had protested.

“I want to say that when this law was passed in 2002, it was intended to persecute the Awami League and other parties who opposed the BNP. But if MPs see how this law has been implemented in the last 15 years, his (Chunnu) statement is not correct.”

Secondly, the law minister said that this law is necessary for maintaining the law and order situation of the country. Due to the presence of this law, many disturbances have not happened in the last 15 years.

“From 2001 to 2006, this law was used only on political parties and political activists. Since 2009 to 2024, it has not been used against political activists or leaders. Many types of violence, chaos have been prevented by this law. This is why this law should be made permanent.”

Later, the bill was sent to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Home Ministry to examine and report back to the House within two days.

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