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>govt okays Contempt of Court Ordinance

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>THE cabinet yesterday approved in principle the much-talked about Contempt of Court Ordinance to clarify the definition of contempt, enhance accountability of judges and reduce chances of future arbitrary rulings.
The council of advisers also approved in principle the long-awaited Anti-Money-Laundering Ordinance, 2008, an ordinance to make the Bangladesh Telegraph and Telephone Board (BTTB) a private company, and an ordinance to establish a public university in Rangpur.
“The contempt of court ordinance has been designed to ensure people’s rights as it will enable the press to hold the courts and judges accountable and it is for everyone’s benefit,” said the Chief Adviser’s Press Secretary Syed Fahim Munaim in a press briefing after the weekly cabinet meeting.
The ordinance, once promulgated after vetting by the law ministry, would replace the Contempt of Court Act 1926.
“Any wilful act, statement or expression through words or signs which is interpreted to violate or undermine a verdict, decree, order, writ or warrant issued by a court will be considered a contempt of court,” Fahim said.
It will also consider any obstruction of justice, slander or libel of a court and personal criticism of a judge while performing judicial functions as contempt of court.
A contempt of court would be punishable by six months’ imprisonment or a Tk 20,000 fine.
The ordinance allows the press to comment and publish “normal” court proceedings and functions or seek disciplinary proceedings against any judge as long as it is done in “good faith” and through “restrained language”.

A judge’s alleged corruption or incompetence and their extra-judicial activities outside their judicial functions can also be reported, according to the ordinance.
A judgement can also be criticised as long as it is “constructive”.
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