The Hindus in the country have been forced to bribe a total of Tk2,270 crore in some 2,00,000 cases filed since 2001 by them under the Vested Property Act, according to a study report.
Human Development Research Centre in cooperation with the Association for Land Reforms and Development conducted the study “Vested Property Act and Implementation Outcomes.”
Eminent economist Dr Abul Barkat presented an eight-page summary of the 150-page report in a view-exchange meeting at National Press Club in Dhaka yesterday. Dr Barkat was among six researchers who carried out the study.
On an average, each of the affected Hindu families spent Tk2,27,000 for their cases filed under the act, and 50% of the costs were spent on bribery. Hence, the total amount spent on bribery stands at Tk2,270 crore, Barkat said, citing the findings.
Administrative irregularities, corruptions and slow pace of case proceedings all result from “drawbacks” in the act, he observed.
By frequently changing hearing dates, prosecutors deliberately put the cases on hold to fleece the victims. District administrations, too, intentionally linger in the handover of land to its owner even after a case was disposed of, the study says.
When making use of the act, 95% of victims had to spend more time than necessary only because of negligence and corruption by the authorities, it reveals.
Barkat alleged that tribunals, district administration offices, and land offices did not properly implement the act despite a strict order from Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
“Although the act has been aimed at dealing with the minority communities’ land-related disputes, the opposite of what is expected is seen as the harassing and fleecing of the people rose.”
It has also been found that the government, when bringing an amendment to the act, accepted only 11% of recommendations proposed by different rights bodies, and 17% were partially implemented while there is no reflection on the remaining recommendations.
The study put forward a 19-point recommendation to duly implement the act and stop corruption.
Prof MM Akash of Dhaka University, Nijera Kori Chairperson Khushi Kabir and Bangladesh Hindu-Bouddha-Christian Oikya Parishad Secretary Rana Dasgupta also spoke.