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Dhaka Tribune

AL, BNP MPs agree over anti-hartal bill

Update : 09 Apr 2013, 10:29 AM


An all-party parliamentary panel yesterday agreed to characterise enforcing consecutive hartals as a criminal offence and suggested trial of such crimes under the Penal Code.

The Parliamentary Committee on Private Members Bills and Resolutions at its meeting observed that political parties had the rights to call shutdowns, but the people had the rights to reject them, too.

No political party can force the people to observe hartals, said Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu in his “Public Importance Bill” that was tabled for discussion.

The bill, tabled in the House about three years ago, proposed that political parties must not violate the people’s right to movement. This failing, leaders may face a maximum five years in jail or a fine of Tk10,000, or both.

If approved by the committee, the bill will be tabled in the House, which can either pass or reject the draft law.

“Our observation is: no political party has the right to disrupt the people’s life by calling consecutive hartals. So, such criminal actions should be tried under the Penal Code”, Abdul Matin Khasru, the committee chairman, told Dhaka Tribune at the parliament building.

He said that political parties must chalk out programmes which do not violate people’s basic rights of movement, assembly and organisation.

Awami League members asm Feroz and Zunaid Ahmed Palak and the main opposition bnp’s reserved seat mp Syeda Asifa Ashrafi Papia attended the meeting.

Papia agreed with the committee but said it must seek the opinion of the highest leadership of the Awami League and the bnp before passing the bill to the House.

“We should invite them [Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia] at the committee. If not possible, they can send their representatives to let us know about their position on hartal”, said the bnp lawmaker, who has been highly active in all the bnp-sponsored hartals.

The committee will discuss other sections of the anti-hartal bill at its next meeting, the date of which is yet to be decided.

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