Cabinet approves ordinance to set up virtual courts amid the nationwide lockdown
The government has decided to introduce virtual courts within a week as a measure toward resuming regular court activities amid the Covid-19 lockdown in Bangladesh.
The cabinet approved an ordinance to this effect at a meeting on Thursday.
Chaired by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the cabinet meeting took place at the prime minister’s official residence Ganabhaban, with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, Law Minister Anisul Huq, Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal and some top bureaucrats in attendance.
The cabinet meeting was held after a month, with a small group of cabinet members taking part in it due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
After the meeting, Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam briefed a state-run media outlet at the Secretariat in the afternoon.
During the briefing, the cabinet secretary said due to the nationwide lockdown to contain the Covid-19 outbreak in the country, all kinds of courts had been closed for nearly two months, which is why people were not getting due services and proceedings of a lot of cases remained pending.
“That is why the cabinet approved an ordinance today [Thursday], titled ‘Usage of Information and Communication Technology in Court 2020.’ After the implementation of this ordinance, courts will be able to work digitally via videoconference,” he added.
“Now, the Ministry of Law will scrutinize it and forward the file to the president. After the president’s approval, the ordinance will come into effect,” the cabinet secretary stated.
He said the ordinance would be tabled on the first day of the next session of parliament.
When contacted in this regard, Law Minister Anisul Huq told Dhaka Tribune that the government was hopeful the virtual courts would start functioning within a week.
No interest for tax returnees during lockdown
The cabinet approved two other ordinances on taxes at Thursday’s meeting: the “Income Tax (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020” and the “Value-Added Tax (Amendment) Law, 2020.”
The cabinet secretary said under the existing law, a month’s VAT return must be submitted by the 15th of the following month. But due to the Covid-19 lockdown, most of the industries and businesses have remained closed. The law states that in case of delay, the businesses have to submit their VAT return with a fine.
However, with the implementation of the ordinances, the “Act of God” rule will be applied, and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) can exempt businesses and individual taxpayers from fines.
“These two ordinances will also come into effect after the president’s approval,” the cabinet secretary said.