The ‘Bangladesh National Archives Bill, 2021’ was passed in Parliament on Thursday with the provision that no record can be destroyed and every record must be archived.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid placed the Bill in the House which was passed by voice vote. The Bill was brought to replace the ‘National Archives Ordinance, 1983’ which was promulgated during the military regime of HM Ershad.
The provision of destroying any record has been dropped from the new law. So, no record stored in the National Archives can be destroyed. All the records must be preserved as per the new law.
The new law keeps the punishment for violators of the law. According to the law, if anyone tampers, destroys, erases, or hacks any file of the archive, he will be imprisoned for three years or will be fined Tk 20,000.
If anyone takes any file from the Archives illegally, smuggles it abroad or takes it outside the Archives building with an ill intention, the person will be imprisoned for five years or fined Tk one lakh.
The soft copies of classified documents will have to be stored in Kaliakoir Data Centre after a certain period of time.
According to the law, there will be a 17-member advisory council for a three-year tenure. The director-general (DG) of the National Archives will be appointed by the government.
As per the proposed law, the National Archives will provide records to any individual upon application and provide applicable fees.
Permission from the director-general will be required regarding sending any file, which is above 75 years’ old and has historical, cultural and literature value, abroad. The DG can refuse permission to allow sending the file abroad considering it can potentially harm the country’s interests.
The aggrieved person can apply to the government within 14 days of informing him officially and the decision of the government is final following his application rejection.