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Many British-era laws redundant now

Published : 11 Mar 2022 09:01 PM | Updated : 12 Mar 2022 03:04 PM

There are many British-era laws that still exist in Bangladesh, majority of which have no utility or application. Sadly, the redundant laws are still included in Bangladesh Code today.

Some of the laws which have no application are - The Public Servants (Inquiries) Act, 1850; The Tolls Act, 1851; The Pensions Act, 1871; The Canals Act, 1864; The Acting Judges Act, 1867; The Sarais Act, 1867; and The Alluvion (Amendment) Act, 1868. 

There are 24 laws included in Vol-1 of The Bangladesh Code’s 2016 version and the above-mentioned seven laws are also included in the volume among the 24 laws. The Law Commission recommended the repeal of the seven laws from Bangladesh Code. 

The Bangladesh Code is an official compilation of laws in Bangladesh, which is published by Law Ministry. It has 38 volumes, which include laws enacted in British India. 

Secretary of Law Commission Atwar Rahman (District and Sessions Judge) said that the commission has recently sent its opinion and recommendation over the seven laws. 

Signed by the Chairman of the Commission, Justice A.B.M Khairul Haque and its member Justice ATM Fazle Kabir, the Law Commission’s No. 161 report says that the seven laws have now no utility and application. 

‘The Public Servants (Inquiries) Act, 1850’ is mentioned on 46-52 in Vol-1 of The Bangladesh Code. The law was enacted 172 years ago for regulating inquiries into the behavior of public servants. According to the law, a section of public servants won’t be removed from their appointments without the sanction of the government. 

There were 25 sections in this law, but now there are 21 because four sections were repealed by various amendments.

The law should be repealed as the Bangladesh government later promulgated ‘The Government Servants (Special Provisions) Ordinance, 1979’ and several other rules, which made special provisions for maintaining discipline among government servants. 

The 1979 ordinance and other rules, including ‘The Government Servants (Discipline and Appeal) Rules, 1985’, covered the issues which were mentioned in the ‘The Public Servants (Inquiries) Act, 1850’. So, the British period law has become unnecessary. 

‘The Tolls Act, 1851’ was enacted aiming to enable the government to fix and collect tolls on public roads and bridges. This law was given application to the whole of Bangladesh in 1973. 

The 1851 tolls law has lost its application following enactment of ‘The Jamuna Multipurpose Bridge Authority (Amendment) Act, 2009’ and ‘The Bangladesh Bridge Authority Ordinance, 1985’. Against this backdrop, the Law Commission has recommended the repeal of the 171-year-old law.

‘The Pensions Act’ was enacted in 1871 in order to consolidate and amend the laws relating to pensions and grants by the government of money or land revenue.  As per the law, the court was closed for the aggrieved person regarding pension. The law has become dysfunctional as it has no application and utility after the enactment of some other laws and rules in this regard. 

‘The Canals Act, 1864’ was enacted in order to amend and consolidate the laws relating to the collection of tolls on canals and other lines of navigation, and for the construction and improvement of lines of navigation. 

The law has 20 sections. However, Section 17 and Section 19 have already been annulled. 

The Act has lost its application following the establishment of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) and the Marine Court which were launched as per ‘The Inland Water Transport Authority Ordinance, 1958’ and ‘The Inland Shipping Ordinance, 1976’ respectively. Against this backdrop, The Canals Act, 1864 has no utility. 

‘The Acting Judges Act, 1867’ was enacted to authorize the making of acting appointments to certain judicial offices. According to the law, the President is empowered to appoint the judges of certain courts in Bangladesh. 

Later, the constitutional provision as well as Article 95, Article 98 and Article 115 of Bangladesh’s Constitution empowered the President to appoint judges and other issues in this regard. 

According to the Article 115 of the constitution, some rules were formulated. These include the Bangladesh Judicial Service Commission Rules, 2007; the Bangladesh Judicial Service (Pay Commission) Rules, 2007; the Bangladesh Judicial Service (Composition, Appointment in Service Posts and Suspension, Dismissal and Removal), Rules 2007; the Bangladesh Judicial Service (Posting, Promotion, Leave Granting, Control, Discipline and Other Service Conditions), Rules 2007.

However, Bangladesh Judicial Service Commission was also formed as per the rules. 

In the case of appointment of judges, since the relevant provisions of the Constitution and many rules were enacted as per the provisions, the Law Commission considers it reasonable to repeal ‘The Acting Judges Act, 1867’, which is contradictory to the Constitution.

‘The Sarais Act, 1867’ was enacted during the British era in order to provide for the regulation of public Sarais and Puraos as well as resting places or the caravan station where travellers would rest. 

The old law has lost its application following the promulgation of ‘The Bangladesh Hotels and Restaurants Ordinance, 1982’; ‘The Bangladesh Parjatan Corporation Order, 1972’; and ‘The Bangladesh Travel Agencies (Registration and Control) Ordinance, 1977’. However, there are now no public Sarais and Puraos anywhere in the country. 

‘The Alluvion (Amendment) Act, 1868’ was enacted after amending ‘The Bengal Alluvion and Diluvian Act, 1947’. The law is still in the Bangladesh Code.

However, Article 86 and Article 87 of ‘The State Acquisition and Tenancy Act, 1950’ covered all the issues which were mentioned in the 1868 law. Against this backdrop, the Law Commission has recommended the repeal of the old law.

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