The Municipal Association Bangladesh makes the call at a discussion
The municipality authorities claim that they have less power than that of Union Parishads when it comes to imposing fines in dispute resolution.
At a discussion on Tuesday, municipality mayors called the government to reform the Conciliation of Dispute (Municipal Area) Board Act 2004.
The existing law stipulates that a committee formed under the Act can resolve disputes, which help the people to settle matters without moving the court, Municipal Association Bangladesh (MAB) President Dewan Kamal Ahmed said.
“But according to the law, the panel can only impose fines up to Tk25,000. However, we often have to deal with disputes, which are worth more than that in monetary terms. So, we demand reforms to the act,” said Kamal, the mayor of Nilphamari municipality.
The village court, operated under the Union Parishad, can slap fines up to Tk75,000, he said.
Women are the main beneficiary of the dispute resolution board as “they usually do not move the court”, said MAB Secretary Khalid Hossain.
“So, the law should be updated to increase the maximum amount of fine that can be imposed,” he said.
According to a study by the Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA), more than 47% women move the dispute resolution boards to settle civil matters.
Local government expert Dr Badiul Alam Mazumder urged the mayors to raise their voice not only for reforming acts but also win back the political space which has been seized by the bureaucrats.
“Public representatives under the local government have already lost their power in terms of local development, policy making and legal issues. Mayors cannot get it back if they do not raise their voices,” he added.
MAB, MLAA, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and Nagarik Uddug jointly organize the webinar.