Looking back at the laws of 2016

Staff Correspondent | Published: 20:40 pm, 06 Jan 2017, Fri

Looking back at the laws of 2016

As with previous years, 2016 saw a plethora of legislation. Some circled around policies, some tried to fill in the lacuna of legal provisions, and few were made with the aim of empowering autonomous bodies. The following discussion covers some notable laws, made in 2016. In total twenty-five Acts have been passed by the Legislature this year. Among them few has been emphasised here. The Bangladesh Tea Workers Welfare Fund Act, 2016, states that if workers retire or are dismissed or are discharged because of being deemed physically or mentally unfit during the course of their work, they will be entitled to one time bulk payment.  The provision of monetary aid extends to situations of medical aid, funeral arrangements and marriage expenses of the children of the workers. In the Railway Security Force Act, 2016, it has been said that the force is going to have an authority of its own; the force shall be under the direct supervision of the government. The law has also put in provisions like demotions and mandatory retirement for negligence of duty and other disciplinary actions. A similar enactment was done regarding the welfare and disciplinary actions of Bangladesh Coast Guard; an Act named Bangladesh Coast Guard Act, 2016. The Youth Welfare Fund Act 2016 has removed the bar of issuing a gazette for the approval of such funds. The new law will allow direct donation of funds to youth organisations involved in promotion of sports, arts, culture, conventional and technical education. As per the newly passed Bangladesh Bridge Authority  Act, 2016, the police or person authorised by the Bridge Authority will be able to arrest persons without warrant if they come across non-compliance of any rule set out by the authority. The Act also allows imposing prohibition of a particular class of vehicles, if the authority deems it dangerous for the greater populace; the authority can now has the power of 'stop and search' over any vehicle, driver of vehicle and its passengers. Alongside extending its jurisdictions extensively, the Act has also introduced a particular subsection that allows fining of up to 10,000 taka if queue is not maintained near the toll plaza. If any of the newly introduced provisions are breached, there can be a fine imposition of up to 5000 taka. The newly enacted President's pension, gratuity and other benefits law, 2016 notably allowed a retired president to receive seventy five percent of the previous remuneration for pension and medical aid. Furthermore, it is stated that presidents in retirement are entitled to have a personal assistant, an office with an attendant and a personal telephone. All such expenses will be borne by the Government.  The former president will retain the use of his diplomatic passport. The benefits of the Act however have excluded office holders Ziaur Rahman, H M Ershad and Moshtaque Ahmed by virtue of Section 6. With an aim to prevent the stealing and encroachment of Railway property, Railway Property (salvation of unlawful possession) Act, 2016 has been passed with a provision of imprisonment of up to five years. The law states that if it is deemed necessary by any security personnel of the railway, he can arrest anyone who has committed an offence under this act. The investigatory powers has wholly been vested in the railway security officials, ranging from issuing summons to recovery of those ill possessed properties. Any tool, animal, vehicle used in the commission of such crimes can be confiscated by such authorities. One particular enactment that has been the issue of some controversy was Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulations Act, 2016. Regardless of anything else said elsewhere, as per this Act, any foreign organisation or NGOs, without seeking prior registration from the authority empowered under this Act will not be able to operate or regulate voluntary activities. But if such voluntary activities are from individuals, in that case there's no need to be registered, prior permission from the newly empowered bureau will suffice. For prevention of import, storage, transport, distribution, production, filtration and mixing of petroleum without licences, the Petroleum Act 2016 has come into force.  The Tea Act 2016 has placed restrictions, such as that on the export of tea and not allowing tea to be manufactured elsewhere except enlisted factories. The Act, in the case of breach, has set the bar of punishment to be imprisonment of 2 years or fine of 50,000 taka. The success of any Act depends on its implementation. We hope that 2017 will ensure the proper implementation of all the previous laws.    THE WRITER IS A STUDENT OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF LONDON INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMMES.   List of laws *    Bangladesh Tea Workers Welfare Fund Act, 2016 *      Railway Security Force Act, 2016 *     Integration of Surplus Government Employees, 2016 *     Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology Fellowship Trust Act, 2016 *     Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Act, 2016 *     Paira Port Project (Land Acquisition) Act, 2016 *     Cox's Bazar Development Authority Act, 2016 *     Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation Act, 2016 *     Bangladesh Coast Guard Act, 2016 *     The Defense Division of Labour (Command) Act, 2016 *     Chittagong Medical University  Act, 2016 *     Rajshahi Medical University Act, 2016 *     Specification (Supplementary) Act, 2016 *     Finance Act, 2016 *     Specification Act, 2016 *     Rabindra University of Bangladesh Act, 2016 *    Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Digital University  Act, 2016 *     Petroleum Act, 2016 *     Youth Welfare Fund Act, 2016 *    Bangladesh Bridge Authority Act, 2016 *    Railway Property (Unlawful Possession of Salvation) Act, 2016 *     Bangladesh Investment Development Authority Act, 2016 *     Tea Act, 2016 *     President's Pension, Gratuity and other Benefits Act, 2016 *    Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulations Act, 2016