Cabinet clears draft of ‘Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2022’

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Dhaka, Mar 15: The Cabinet today in principle approved the draft of “Evidence (Amendment) Act, 2022” with the aim of setting up legal shape for the submission of digital evidence before the court.

The approval came at the weekly Cabinet meeting held at Bangladesh Secretariat with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

The premier joined it virtually from her official residence Ganabhaban, while her cabinet colleagues and others were at the meeting room of the Cabinet Division.

“The digital evidences will be accepted from now as per the proposed law,” said Cabinet Secretary Khandker Anwarul Islam while briefing reporters after the meeting.

He said evidence, documents and such other things were given online after the inception of digital or online trials of cases amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

There is nothing directly mentioned about online or digital evidence in the existing Evidence Act, he said.

With the existing law, many legal complicacies might appear if any aggrieved person files a petition with the higher court, challenging the verdict of the lower court in case of acceptance of digital evidence or documents, he said.

In the draft law, a provision was kept for making forensic examination of digital evidence. “If the court thinks necessary or any party of the case doubts about the authenticity of such evidence, these can be removed through forensic examination,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

He said sufficient laboratories are there in the country for forensic examination of digital evidence and BCC also has very high technology in this regard.

The government might spread the laboratories and technology to convenient places of the country for the sake of submission of digital evidence, he added.

The submission of false or manipulated evidence would be punished as per the laws concerned.

Anwarul Islam said, “If anyone twists (tampers) evidence, the persons will be dealt with as per the section 211 of the Penal Code or the section 57 of the Digital Act.”

Besides, the Cabinet in principle approved the draft of “Bangladesh Supreme Court Judges (Leave, Pension and Privileges) Act, 2022” with a provision of a monthly special allowance of Taka 70,000 for a retired judge.

The special allowance will be given to meet expenses against different purposes like his domestic help, car driver, house guard and maintenance of office-cum residence, said Anwarul Islam.

He added, “The draft law was brought to formulate a law repealing an ordinance of the military regime as per a judgment of the high court.”

The proposed law will replace the Supreme Court Judges (Leave, Pension and Privileges) Ordinance, 1982.

On the other hand, the Cabinet gave the final approval to the draft of Abandoned Houses (Supplementary Provisions) Act, 2022 keeping a provision that the confiscated properties of a convicted war criminal would be treated as “abandoned assets”.

The existing law is also an ordinance of 1985. Since it was promulgated during the military regime, the new law had to be brought as per the judgment of the High Court. “Few small changes were made here,” said the Cabinet Secretary.

He added, “If anyone is convicted in a war criminal case and the court seizes his or her properties, these will be considered as abandoned properties under the proposed law.”

Besides, the final authority was given to the head of the government instead of the government in case of disposal of anything regarding high-valued buildings like that in Gulshan, Banani and Dhanmondi, he said.

The draft law was placed to replace the Abandoned Buildings (Supplementary Provisions) Ordinance, 1985.

The meeting also gave the final approval to the draft of “Zakat Fund Management Act, 2022” to repeal an ordinance of the military regime.

The Cabinet Secretary said, “As per the draft law, there would be a Zakat fund board under the supervision of Islamic Foundation to collect and distribute Zakat.”